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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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A New App Interprets Sign Language for the Amazon Echo
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The convenience of the Amazon Echo smart speaker only goes so far. Without any sort of visual interface, the voice-activated home assistant isn't very useful for deaf people—Alexa only understands three languages, none of which are American Sign Language. But Fast Company reports that one programmer has invented an ingenious system that allows the Echo to communicate visually.

Abhishek Singh's new artificial intelligence app acts as an interpreter between deaf people and Alexa. For it to work, users must sign at a web cam that's connected to a computer. The app translates the ASL signs from the webcam into text and reads it aloud for Alexa to hear. When Alexa talks back, the app generates a text version of the response for the user to read.

Singh had to teach his system ASL himself by signing various words at his web cam repeatedly. Working within the machine-learning platform Tensorflow, the AI program eventually collected enough data to recognize the meaning of certain gestures automatically.

While Amazon does have two smart home devices with screens—the Echo Show and Echo Spot—for now, Singh's app is one of the best options out there for signers using voice assistants that don't have visual components. He plans to make the code open-source and share his full methodology in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Watch his demo in the video below.

[h/t Fast Company]

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How to Craft the Perfect Comeback, According to Experts
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In a 1997 episode of Seinfeld called “The Comeback,” George Costanza is merrily stuffing himself with free shrimp at a meeting. His coworker mocks him: “Hey, George, the ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.” George stands humiliated as laughter fills the room, his mind searching frantically for the perfect riposte.

It’s only later, on the drive home, that he thinks of the comeback. But the moment has passed.

The common human experience of thinking of the perfect response too late—l’esprit de l’escalier, or "the wit of the staircase"—was identified by French philosopher Denis Diderot when he was so overwhelmed by an argument at a party that he could only think clearly again once he’d gotten to the bottom of the stairs.

We've all been there. Freestyle rappers, improv comedians, and others who rely on witty rejoinders for a living say their jobs make them better equipped to seize the opportunity for clever retorts in everyday life. They use a combination of timing, listening, and gagging their inner critics. Here are their insights for crafting the perfect comeback.

LISTEN TO YOUR OPPONENT’S ARGUMENT.

The next time you’re in a heated conversation, be less focused on what you're about to say and more attentive to what you're actually responding to. When you spend more time considering what your sparring partner is saying, “you’re deferring your response until you’ve fully heard the other person," Jim Tosone, a technology executive-turned-improv coach who developed the Improv Means Business program, tells Mental Floss. Your retorts may be more accurate, and therefore more successful, when you’re fully engaged with the other person’s thoughts.

DON’T THINK TOO MUCH.

According to Belina Raffy, the CEO of the Berlin-based company Maffick—which also uses improv skills in business—not overthinking the situation is key. “You’re taking yourself out of unfolding reality if you think too much,” she tells Mental Floss. It’s important to be in the moment, and to deliver your response to reflect that moment.

TRAIN THAT SPONTANEOUS MENTAL MUSCLE.

History’s most skilled comeback artists stored witticisms away for later use, and were able to pull them out of their memory at the critical time.

Winston Churchill was known for his comebacks, but Tim Riley, director and chief curator at the National Churchill Museum in Fulton, Missouri, tells Mental Floss that many of his burns were borrowed. One of his most famous lines was in response to politician Bessie Braddock’s jab, “Sir, you are drunk.” The prime minister replied, “And you, Bessie, are ugly. But I shall be sober in the morning, and you will still be ugly.”

Riley says this line was copied from comic W.C. Fields. Nevertheless, it took quick thinking to remember and reshape the quote in the moment, which is why Churchill was thought of as a master of timing. “It was an off-the-cuff recall of something he had synthesized, composed earlier, and that he was waiting to perform,” Riley says.

But in some situations, the retort must be created entirely in the moment. Training for spontaneity on stage also helps with being quicker-witted in social situations, New York City battle rap emcee iLLspokinn tells Mental Floss. It’s like working a spontaneous muscle that builds with each flex, so, you’re incrementally better each time at seizing that witty opportunity.

MUZZLE YOUR INNER CRITIC.

Anyone who has been in the audience for an improv show has seen how rapidly performers respond to every situation. Improv teaches you to release your inhibitions and say what drops into your mind: “It’s about letting go of the need to judge ourselves,” Raffy explains.

One way to break free of your internal editor might be to imagine yourself on stage. In improv theater, the funniest responses occur in the spur of the moment, says Douglas Widick, an improv performer who trained with Chicago’s Upright Citizens Brigade. By not letting one’s conscience be one’s guide, actors can give into their “deepest fantasies” and say the things they wouldn’t say in real life.

IF YOU HAVE AN EXTRA SECOND, HONE YOUR ZINGER.

The German version of Diderot’s term is Treppenwitz, also meaning the wit of the stairs. But the German phrase has evolved to mean the opposite: Something said that, in retrospect, was a bad joke. When squaring up to your rival, the high you get from spearing your opponent with a deadly verbal thrust can be shadowed by its opposite, the low that comes from blurting out a lame response that lands like a lead balloon.

That's a feeling that freestyle rapper Lex Rush hopes to avoid. “In the heat of the battle, you just go for it,” she tells Mental Floss. She likens the fight to a “stream of consciousness” that unfolds into the mic, which leaves her with little control over what she’s projecting into the crowd.

It may help to mull over your retort if you have a few extra seconds—especially if you’re the extroverted type. “Introverts may walk out of a meeting thinking, ‘Why didn’t I say that?’ while extroverts think, ‘Why did I say that?’” Tosone, the improv coach, says. Thinking before you speak, even just briefly, will help you deploy a successful comeback.

And if it doesn’t go your way, iLLspokinn advises brushing off your missed opportunity rather than dwelling on your error: “It can be toxic to hold onto it."

THROW DIGITAL SHADE ACCORDING TO THE SAME RULES—BUT BE QUICK ABOUT IT.

Texting and social media, as opposed to face-to-face contact, give you a few extra minutes to think through your responses. That could improve the quality of your zinger. “We’re still human beings, even on screens. And we prefer something that is well-stated and has a fun energy and wit about it," Scott Talan, a social media expert at American University, tells Mental Floss.

But don't wait too long: Replies lose their punch after a day or so. “Speed is integral to wit, whether in real life or screen life,” Talan says. “If you’re trying to be witty and have that reputation, then speed will help you."

Some companies have excelled in deploying savage social media burns as marketing strategies, winning viral retweets and recognition. The Wendy’s Twitter account has become so well known for its sassy replies that users often provoke it. “Bet you won’t follow me @Wendys,” a user challenged. “You won that bet,” Wendy’s immediately shot back.

George Costanza learns that lesson when he uses his rehearsed comeback at the next meeting. After his colleague repeats his shrimp insult, George stands and proudly announces, “Oh yeah? Well, the jerk store called, and they’re running out of you!”

There’s silence—until his nemesis comes back with a lethal move: “What’s the difference? You’re their all-time best-seller.”

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