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12 Delicious Pieces of Regional Pizza Slang

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Perhaps only slightly less important than how you eat your pizza is how you talk about it. Here are 12 ways people all over the country (and Canada!) refer to those cheesy slices of goodness.

1. PLAIN OR CHEESE?

Plain meaning without toppings is New York-area vernacular while outside New York such a pizza would be referred to as (the redundant) cheese. Other New York options include a regular slice (a nice parallel with the northeast dialectal, regular coffee, a coffee with cream and sugar) and plain old slice.

2. PIECE OR SLICE?

Speaking of slices, in New York you can say, “I’m getting a slice,” and people will know what you’re talking about. However, elsewhere “piece of pizza” is preferred, and if you say “slice,” you’ll need to qualify it with “of pizza."

3. PIE OR PIZZA?

While to east coasters, it might feel perfectly natural to say “pie” when referring to a whole pizza, not so for those in other regions. In an informal poll I conducted, “pie” was described by west coasters as "pretentious" and “only something someone in a movie would say,” while one Brooklynite described those who didn't use "pie" as "heathens." The reason for this sharp divide is unclear.

4. PIZZA PARLOR, PIZZA SHOP, OR PIZZERIA?

People don’t seem to feel as passionately about the place they get their pizza from as the pizza itself. In my survey, pizza place was the most popular, followed by pizza parlor and, a close third, pizzeria. There was one write-in for pizza joint but no votes for pizza shop.

In a Google Ngrams search of “lots of books” from 1800 on, pizzeria is by far the most popular. A distant second is pizza parlor, third is pizza place, and pizza shop and pizza joint almost tie for last.

5. TIP SAG

Tip sag refers to when the tip of one’s pizza slice droops down (and, depending on the degree of droop, may result in the dreaded pizza fold). Tip sagging might be most familiar to regions that specialize in Neapolitan-style pizza, that is, round with sauce, cheese, and various toppings.

In 2013, certain Dallas diners were put-out by the characteristic sag of one restaurant's Neapolitan, resulting in a schooling by the restaurateur on the pizza’s deliberate yummy “sogginess.”

6. CHICAGO-STYLE

Legend says that Chicago-style deep dish pizza was invented in the early 1940s by the founders of Pizzeria Uno, or else the founders’ employees. About 30 years later, eateries started offering stuffed pizza (not to be confused with Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust monstrosity). These long-baking varieties may have come about to create a different, slower dining experience than the on-the-go Neapolitan.

However, Chicago does have its own thin-crust pizza -- described as crisp and crunchy like a cracker -- which, some say, is even more popular than deep dish or stuffed.

7. PARTY-CUT OR PIE-CUT?

You can’t talk about thin-crust Chicago style pizza without talking about the type of cut. Party-cut, also known as tavern-cutmeans cutting in a grid, while pie-cut means cutting in triangles or wedges. Pie-cut is so-called because of its resemblance to how a dessert pie would be divided. Presumably party- or tavern-cut got its name because that’s how pizza has traditionally been served in taverns and at parties, although why is unclear.

As for which is better, that's an ongoing debate.

8. APIZZA

Perhaps less well-known, although no less delicious, is New Haven-style pizza, known in local vernacular as apizza. New Haven-style is thin like New York pizza, but if you walk into an apizza parlor and order a “plain,” you’ll get one without mootz, or mozzarella.

Apizza and mootz both come from the dialect of Naples immigrants who arrived in the area in the early 1920s. Apizza is pronounced uh-BEETs, with a silent final A.

9. OLD FORGE PIZZA

Old Forge pizza originated in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, which is right outside Scranton. This self-proclaimed “pizza capital of the world” was primarily a mining town, and the story goes that one “Grandma” Ghigiarelli would serve the square-shaped pizza to coal miners who had come in to take a break and play cards.

Thicker than a Neapolitan, the most popular varieties of the Old Forge are the red, a traditional tomato sauce and cheese; the white, hold the sauce; and the black, which has cheese, black pepper, black olives, and anchovies.

10. GRANDMA PIZZA

Also known as grandma pie, the grandma pizza is similar to the chunky, rectangular Sicilian, but with a thinner, dense crust. The style probably originated in Long Island, New York in the early 20th century, and is similar to pizza alla casalingo, or “housewife style pizza,” the kind you’d get if you visited someone’s home in Italy.

What makes the crust denser and thinner? Shorter proofing, or the time between stretching the dough and baking the pizza, because, as one knows, Italian grandmas are way too busy for your silly proofing.

11. ALL-DRESSED PIZZA

All-dressed is Montreal slang for “everything on it.” There’s the all-dressed hot dog, the all-dressed bagel (the equivalent of New York’s everything bagel), and of course the all-dressed pizza. Pizza tout garnie in Quebecois, the all-dressed pizza comes with mushrooms, green peppers, and pepperoni, not literally "everything" but still a lot.

So what makes a Montreal pizza Montrealean? A thicker, puffier crust, toppings that go under the cheese, and a dough ball in the center to keep the pizza box lid off the pizza, a much less wasteful option than plastic pizza savers.

12. PIZZA IN AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE

Pizza has regional differences in ASL as well. Some are fingerspelled while others are representations of a round pizza tray -- apparently the accepted sign in British Sign Language -- or someone taking a bite of pizza. The taking-a-bite sign is popular in Sacramento, California.

Fingerspelled methods include the “Za” variation, signing a double Z plus the letter A; the “P,” using a P handshape to sign the letter Z; the double Z with no A; and spelling out the whole word.

But however you sign, say, or serve pizza, it all spells delicious.


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Designer Reimagines the Spanish Alphabet With Only 19 Letters
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According to designer José de la O, the Spanish alphabet is too crowded. Letters like B and V and S and Z are hard to tell apart when spoken out loud, which makes for a language that's "confusing, complicated, and unpractical," per his design agency's website. His solution is Nueva Qwerty. As Co.Design reports, the "speculative alphabet" combines redundant letters into single characters, leaving 19 letters total.

In place of the letters missing from the original 27-letter Spanish alphabet are five new symbols. The S slot, for example, is occupied by one letter that does the job of C, Z, and S. Q, K, and C have been merged into a single character, as have I and Y. The design of each glyph borrows elements from each of the letters it represents, making the new alphabet easy for Spanish-speakers to learn, its designer says.

Speculative Spanish alphabet.
José de la O

By streamlining the Spanish alphabet, de la O claims he's made it easier to read, write, and type. But the convenience factor may not be enough to win over some Spanish scholars: When the Royal Spanish Academy cut just two letters (CH and LL) from the Spanish alphabet in 2010, their decision was met with outrage.

José de la O has already envisioned how his alphabet might function in the real world, Photoshopping it onto storefronts and newspapers. He also showcased the letters in two new fonts. You can install New Times New Roman and Futurysma onto your computer after downloading it here.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Big Questions
Why Does Japan Have Blue Traffic Lights Instead of Green?
ANTTI T. NISSINEN, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
ANTTI T. NISSINEN, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In Japan, a game of Red Light, Green Light might be more like Red Light, Blue Light. Because of a linguistic quirk of Japanese, some of the country’s street lights feature "go" signals that are distinctly more blue than green, as Atlas Obscura alerts us, making the country an outlier in international road design.

Different languages refer to colors very differently. For instance, some languages, like Russian and Japanese, have different words for light blue and dark blue, treating them as two distinct colors. And some languages lump colors English speakers see as distinct together under the same umbrella, using the same word for green and blue, for instance. Again, Japanese is one of those languages. While there are now separate terms for blue and green, in Old Japanese, the word ao was used for both colors—what English-speaking scholars label grue.

In modern Japanese, ao refers to blue, while the word midori means green, but you can see the overlap culturally, including at traffic intersections. Officially, the “go” color in traffic lights is called ao, even though traffic lights used to be a regular green, Reader’s Digest says. This posed a linguistic conundrum: How can bureaucrats call the lights ao in official literature if they're really midori?

Since it was written in 1968, dozens of countries around the world have signed the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, an international treaty aimed at standardizing traffic signals. Japan hasn’t signed (neither has the U.S.), but the country has nevertheless moved toward more internationalized signals.

They ended up splitting the difference between international law and linguists' outcry. Since 1973, the Japanese government has decreed that traffic lights should be green—but that they be the bluest shade of green. They can still qualify as ao, but they're also green enough to mean go to foreigners. But, as Atlas Obscura points out, when drivers take their licensing test, they have to go through a vision test that includes the ability to distinguish between red, yellow, and blue—not green.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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