Fiore Subway Car

The other night I attended a talk about the history of Brooklyn pizza at the Brooklyn Historical Society by Scott Wiener of Scott’s Pizza Tours. Toward the end, a woman stated she had a theory that pizza slice prices stay in rough lockstep with New York City subway fares. Of course, this is a well known relationship that even has its own Wikipedia entry, so Scott referred her to a New York Times article from 1995 that mentioned the phenomenon.

However, he wondered if the preponderance of dollar slice shops has dropped the price of a slice below that of the subway and playfully joked that he wished there was a statistician in the audience.

Naturally, that night I set off to calculate the current price of a slice in New York City using listings from MenuPages. I used R’s XML package to pull the menus for over 1,800 places tagged as “Pizza” in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens (there was no data for Staten Island or The Bronx) and find the price of a cheese slice.

After cleaning up the data and doing my best to find prices for just cheese/plain/regular slices I found that the mean price was $2.33 with a standard deviation of $0.52 and a median price of $2.45. The base subway fare is $2.50 but is actually $2.38 after the 5% bonus for putting at least $5 on a MetroCard.

So, even with the proliferation of dollar slice joints, the average slice of pizza ($2.33) lines up pretty nicely with the cost of a subway ride ($2.38).

Taking it a step further, I broke down the price of a slice in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. The vertical lines represented the price of a subway ride with and without the bonus.  We see that the price of a slice in Manhattan is perfectly right there with the subway fare.

The average price of a slice in each borough.  The dots are the means and the error bars are the two standard deviation confidence intervals.  The two vertical lines represent the discounted subway fare and the base far, respectively.

MenuPages even broke down Queens Neighborhoods so we can have a more specific plot. The average price of a slice in each Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods.  The dots are the means and the error bars are the two standard deviation confidence intervals.  The two vertical lines represent the discounted subway fare and the base far, respectively.

The code for downloading the menus and the calculations is after the break.

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plot of chunk plot-ggplot

For a d3 bar plot visit http://www.jaredlander.com/plots/PizzaPollPlot.html.



I finally compiled the data from all the pizza polling I’ve been doing at the New York R meetups. The data are available as json at http://www.jaredlander.com/data/PizzaPollData.php.

This is easy enough to plot in R using ggplot2.

require(rjson)
require(plyr)
pizzaJson <- fromJSON(file = "http://jaredlander.com/data/PizzaPollData.php")
pizza <- ldply(pizzaJson, as.data.frame)
head(pizza)
##   polla_qid      Answer Votes pollq_id                Question
## 1         2   Excellent     0        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 2         2        Good     6        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 3         2     Average     4        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 4         2        Poor     1        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 5         2 Never Again     2        2  How was Pizza Mercato?
## 6         3   Excellent     1        3 How was Maffei's Pizza?
##            Place      Time TotalVotes Percent
## 1  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.0000
## 2  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.4615
## 3  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.3077
## 4  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.0769
## 5  Pizza Mercato 1.344e+09         13  0.1538
## 6 Maffei's Pizza 1.348e+09          7  0.1429
require(ggplot2)
ggplot(pizza, aes(x = Place, y = Percent, group = Answer, color = Answer)) + 
    geom_line() + theme(axis.text.x = element_text(angle = 46, hjust = 1), legend.position = "bottom") + 
    labs(x = "Pizza Place", title = "Pizza Poll Results")

plot of chunk plot-ggplot

But given this is live data that will change as more polls are added I thought it best to use a plot that automatically updates and is interactive. So this gave me my first chance to need rCharts by Ramnath Vaidyanathan as seen at October’s meetup.

require(rCharts)
pizzaPlot <- nPlot(Percent ~ Place, data = pizza, type = "multiBarChart", group = "Answer")
pizzaPlot$xAxis(axisLabel = "Pizza Place", rotateLabels = -45)
pizzaPlot$yAxis(axisLabel = "Percent")
pizzaPlot$chart(reduceXTicks = FALSE)
pizzaPlot$print("chart1", include_assets = TRUE)

Unfortunately I cannot figure out how to insert this in WordPress so please see the chart at http://www.jaredlander.com/plots/PizzaPollPlot.html. Or see the badly sized one below.

There are still a lot of things I am learning, including how to use a categorical x-axis natively on linecharts and inserting chart titles. I found a workaround for the categorical x-axis by using tickFormat but that is not pretty. I also would like to find a way to quickly switch between a line chart and a bar chart. Fitting more labels onto the x-axis or perhaps adding a scroll bar would be nice too.

How was Williamsburg Pizza?

  • Excellent (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Good (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Average (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Poor (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Never Again (100%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 0

Loading ... Loading …

 

Aggregated results.

Results from individual previous polls are below.

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Wes McKinney and I are hosting our first ever Open Statistical Programming meetup tomorrow night after taking over for Drew Conway.  Please attend, have some pizza, enjoy the talk then come out for some beer.

This meetup is about EDA, Visualization and Collaboration on the Web and will be presented by Carlos Scheidegger from AT&T Labs.

This month’s pizza will be from Pizza Mercato in the Village.


Pi Day Celebrants

As mentioned earlier, yesterday was Pi Day so a bunch of statisticians and other such nerds celebrated at the new(ish) Artichoke Basille near the High Line.  We had three pies:  the signature Artichoke, the Margherita and the Anchovy, which was delicious but only some of us ate.  And of course we had our custom cake from Chrissie Cook.

The photos were taken by John.


Pi Cake 2011

NYC Data Mafia
NYC Data Mafia

Pi CakeHappy Pi Day everybody!  I’ll be out celebrating with the rest of the NYC Data Mafia eating pizza and devouring the above Pi Cake, custom baked by Chrissie Cook.

Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday so there are plenty of reasons to have fun.

The cake below was my first ever Pi Cake in what is sure to become an annual tradition.

Pi Cake 2009

Update: Drew Conway does far more justice to our fair, irrational, transcendental number.

Update 2:  Engadget posted this awesome video of “What Pi Sounds Like.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin ScaliaDaily Intel caught wind of a California Lawyer interview with US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia where he proclaims New York pizza “is infinitely better than Washington pizza, and infinitely better than Chicago pizza.”  I may be biased to New York pizza as well, but that is a debate I’ll save for another day.

It gets really interesting when he says, “You know these deep-dish pizzas—it’s not pizza. It’s very good, but … call it tomato pie or something.”  While an argument can certainly me made that deep-dish pizza is almost a casserole, I think the folks down in Trenton (where Scalia was born) have already claimed the name tomato pie, referring to a round pie with the sauce on top.

Hopefully Slice will chime in on this.

Last Wednesday I made a trip to Di Fara in Midwood, Brooklyn.  Since that place is well covered and lauded I won’t talk about the pizza, as amazing as it is. 

I gave Dom a copy of my thesis (pdf) on NYC pizza and he loved that his place was one of the few pizzerias mentioned by name (along with Lombardi’s and Otto Enoteca, two of my favorites) in the paper.  My friend captured these great photos and I’m extremely thankful to Dom for letting me in his kitchen. 

And to make the trip all the more surreal, Avenue J was lined with lulav and etrog vendors trying to clear out stock before Sukkot started.  The juxtaposition of Di Fara and the surrounding Orthodox neighborhood was striking and really shows the beauty of New York City. 

Gallery of photos below.