Season 1 | Episode 3
Aug 4, 2020

The price of pizza

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Why do things cost what they cost? And what makes people willing to pay the price? Turns out, at least when it comes to pizza, there’s a lot more to it than just dough, sauce and cheese.

There’s a reason things cost what they do — sneakers, pizza, you name it. Businesses put a lot of thought into how much they charge, because they have to consider the cost of ingredients and materials, wages for their staff and lots of other behind-the-scenes things. But you might put just as much thought into what you’re willing to pay — so in a way, you get the final word on whether the prices are right. This week on the show, we’ll talk about how we value the things we buy. Plus, two Dollar Scholars talk to each other about their saving and spending habits, and we’ll hear pastry chef Duff Goldman’s idea for a pizza rover. 

A graph showing all the costs that go into making pizza, broken down in a (pizza) pie graph: two slices for the cost of ingredients, three slices for staff wages, one and a half slices for "overhead" like rent and supplies" and one and a half slices of profit.

Now some tips for grown-ups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money talks

Take a minute to recap the episode and review the key points. Here are some questions to get the kids going:

  1. Our guest, Ann Kim, owns three restaurants in and around Minneapolis. What does she sell at those restaurants? (Hint: It’s her all-time favorite food!)
  2. Besides the ingredients — like cheese and sauce and flour for the dough — what other costs does she have to take into account when she’s setting the price of her pizzas? What’s the biggest cost?
  3. If you were to invent the most expensive pizza ever, what would make it so expensive?
  4. The price of pizza can vary, even from one place to another within the same city. What are some things you consider when you’re deciding what to pay for a pizza?

(Click here for the answers)

Tip jar

To understand why pizza costs what it costs, Jed called up cheesemonger Tiffaney Morse, who explained that the prices she sets can change depending on seasonal or other adjustments in her costs — just like they do for Ann Kim at her restaurants. The same is true for the dairies that supply milk to the cheese factories and the ranches that send cows to the dairies. That whole series of interconnected businesses is called a supply chain, and it’s key to understanding why things cost what they do. 

Business owners are pretty much always paying attention to what’s going on in their supply chains. Because if they can keep costs under control, they have more wiggle room in setting prices — and more opportunity to turn a profit. Some companies get pretty creative with their supply chains. One of the apparel industry’s most closely studied supply chains is that of clothing retailer Inditex, which owns Zara stores. For grown-ups: Here’s a look at that company

Gimme five

One last pizza question to chew on: Would you rather eat OK pizza any time you wanted or only eat pizza once a year, but it’s always the most amazing pizza you’ve ever had?

Finally, we’re looking for some great ideas from kids to feature on an upcoming episode of “Million Bazillion.” So tell us: What business do you wish existed or do you wish you could start? Send us your answers here.

And if you or your kids have questions for us, we’d love to hear them! Click here to get in touch.

Money talks answers

  1. Pizza — duh!
  2. Other costs include overhead, like rent, electricity, kitchen equipment, furniture, decorations. The biggest cost is paying the people who make the restaurant run — like the chefs and waitstaff. 
  3. Answers will vary
  4. Answers will vary, but include things like quality, convenience, how much money you have, how much you feel like spending and each person’s own values — like supporting local proprietors or businesses that pay higher wages or offer environmentally friendly products.

(Click here to go back to the questions)

Listening makes you smarter…
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“Million Bazillion” is Marketplace’s first podcast just for kids that answers the awkward, and sometimes surprising questions that they have about money through fun skits and a lot of creativity.

We hope that you and the kids in your life are having some good conversations about money thanks to this podcast – and that you’ll help us continue making it with your donation today.

Support “Million Bazillion” today to keep us going strong.

The team

Jed Kim Host
Bridget Bodnar Senior Producer
Ben Tolliday Sound designer
Sanden Totten Editor
Erica Phillips Writer/Producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Sitara Nieves Executive Director of On-Demand

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