Pizza Toppings -- where do you draw the line?
October 12, 2007 12:08 PM   Subscribe

PizzaFilter: Extra sauce -- topping or not?

The other night, I ordered a pizza from the pace down the street -- large cheese, with extra sauce. When I went to pick it up, I was surprised to see that I was charged the same price as a one-topping pizza.

When I got home and mentioned this to Mrs. jknecht, she said "totally normal... I would expect them to charge for extra sauce."

I don't mind paying for it (it was only an extra dollar or so), I was just surprised, that's all. I've never seen 'extra sauce' listed on the toppings list, and this particular place did not list 'extra sauce' as one of the things for which there would be an extra charge. And for as many pizzas as I've ever ordered in my life, I can honestly say I've never noticed an extra charge for more sauce. Maybe I'm just not that observant.

So I thought I'd throw it out to the hivemind (especially any of you pizzafolk)... is this unusual?
posted by jknecht to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No. When I get a calzone, I ask for an extra thing of sauce and I get charged 50 cents.
posted by spec80 at 12:12 PM on October 12, 2007

If it is anything other than the basic pizza they will often charge you for it because they can. Thankfully, getting charged a flat rate per topping evens out over time; they're making a huge profit on the sauce, but the margin is smaller on pepperoni and other meats.

Base pizza=base price
Base pizza+x=base price+whatever you're willing to pay
posted by JeremiahBritt at 12:14 PM on October 12, 2007

A lot of the big chains have online ordering, so you could go to their website and see how much it would cost. I just did it for Pizza Hut, and playing around with different combinations, they do appear to consider extra sauce a "topping" and charge accordingly. (This wasn't obvious from comparing a plain cheese pizza to a plain cheese pizza with extra sauce, but that's apparently because one topping is included in the base price. But, for example, pepperoni + sausage = pepperoni + extra sauce > pepperoni = extra sauce = plain.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:22 PM on October 12, 2007

Things cost money, so I would not see it as unusual. That said, extra sauce is not equal to a topping in my mind, I would not be pleased to pay for a full extra topping since tomato sauce is really cheap. Then again I've never ordered an extra sauce pizza so I can't really give any data point.
posted by Meagan at 12:22 PM on October 12, 2007

I live in NY. I order extra sauce on my pizza and do not pay extra for it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:26 PM on October 12, 2007

Definitely, an extra thing, an extra charge.
posted by iguanapolitico at 12:40 PM on October 12, 2007

Papa John's online doesn't charge you for extra sauce. It's under the "special directions" and includes such things as light/dark bake, square-cut pieces, light or extra sauce, etc.
posted by Coffeemate at 12:43 PM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would expect them to charge, but if I ran the pizza place I probably wouldn't. The line between "normal sauce" and "too much sauce" is about 1/2 a cup. They probably spill more than that when making the average pizza.
posted by sanka at 12:52 PM on October 12, 2007

My former roommate says that his particular chain does not charge for extra sauce.

It's 'kinda' a topping, in the sense that it goes on the ticket like any other topping, but it's free, he says.
posted by wierdo at 12:55 PM on October 12, 2007

I can't think of any Toronto pizza places that charge for extra sauce or thick crust, although extra cheese is charged. This may be a regional thing.
posted by maudlin at 12:57 PM on October 12, 2007

Pizza Hut's web site does not charge extra for extra sauce - we order from them frequently and always get extra sauce. Just like Papa John's website, there is a 'special instructions' section of the web order form that allows extra sauce and even alternate slicing options (at no cost)
posted by daveleck at 12:58 PM on October 12, 2007

I just want to give props to one of the Chicago branches of Dominos online ordering because when "hide a piece of sausage under a slice of pepperoni on the right half of the pizza" in special instructions, they do it. At no extra coset.
posted by spec80 at 12:58 PM on October 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

That's like getting charged for extra salad dressing. If no one here is big enough to do it, I'm willing to be the one that says the Sauce Tax Stops here!

Sauce amount should be reasonably negotiable to the customer free of charge!
posted by ZackTM at 1:06 PM on October 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's absolutely fair given the pizza business model. Something like onions is even cheaper than sauce per serving, and you'd be charged for that. Also, anything requiring the staff to customize your order adds value, so they may as well charge.

Consider the alternative. If a pizza cost exactly the same price no matter what you got on it, then all the people who prefer plain cheese would be getting ripped off, while all those who like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and extra cheese would be setting a darned high price standard to cover the food cost.

I think you stand a better chance of good treatment for this sort of thing if you patronize a non-chain, but it certainly depends on the owner/manager.
posted by Miko at 1:11 PM on October 12, 2007

Papa John's does not charge extra for extra sauce.
posted by kanemano at 1:12 PM on October 12, 2007

It wasn't until I traveled far outside the US that I realized how many freebies I expected in exchange for my business. And I'm not what you'd call high maintenance. Sometimes you get charged for extras, sometimes you don't. Either way is normal.
posted by zennie at 1:21 PM on October 12, 2007

You're being charged as much for disrupting the normal labor flow as you are for the ingredients. Any exception to the normal recipe slows down the guy making it. Time is money.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:25 PM on October 12, 2007

When I worked in an independent Pizza place in New Hampshire we didn't charge extra.
posted by Jahaza at 1:42 PM on October 12, 2007

This is probably one spot where computerization of inventory has been a step backward. Back in the day, extra sauce would be a freebie. Part of making the customer happy. No problem.
These days, you have to enter the order into the system and the system duly charges for the extra sauce.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:46 PM on October 12, 2007

You're being charged as much for disrupting the normal labor flow as you are for the ingredients. Any exception to the normal recipe slows down the guy making it.


There is no "normal recipe" for an item that is customized by everyone who orders it. It takes no more time to ladle on a bit more sauce than it does to add any other topping to any other pizza. The "normal labor flow" includes a time variable based on pie construction complexity that is more than flexible enough to account for extra sauce.

And even if your theory WERE sound, it still wouldn't apply, because the time spent adding extra sauce to that pizza would be made up for the next time someone ordered a special supreme, hold the anchovies.

Which happens approximately 18 million times a shift.

To answer the OP's question: it varies from pizzeria to pizzeria. I wouldn't expect to be charged, but it wouldn't be surprising.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:47 PM on October 12, 2007

At the rectangular dotted plaything named pizza store I worked for in college, extra sauce was free, extra cheese was not. Interestingly enough, due to thickness issues preventing full cooking, we did offer extra cheese on the everything-on-it pizza.
posted by nomisxid at 2:08 PM on October 12, 2007

er "did NOT offer"
posted by nomisxid at 2:08 PM on October 12, 2007

The only place I eat pizza at counts garlic sauce as a topping.
posted by special-k at 2:09 PM on October 12, 2007

I like to order my pizzas with no sauce, but I don't get a discount. hmmph.
posted by spinturtle at 4:31 PM on October 12, 2007

You're being charged as much for disrupting the normal labor flow as you are for the ingredients. Any exception to the normal recipe slows down the guy making it.

Though this has been proclaimed horse pucky, I think it's not. One thing that you can do with "normal sauce" pies is get a few ahead on making them, so that when you actually get an order it doesn't take as long to get it into the oven. In fact, you could put the sauce on crusts by the hundreds using a machine and freeze that, only adding the toppings at order time, which I would not be surprised to hear that some chains do.
posted by kindall at 5:15 PM on October 12, 2007

When I worked for a pizzeria in college, we had a regular customer whose order was triple extra sauce, no cheese. Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass it is to get a 3x-sauce, no cheese pizza into and out of an oven at eye height without slopping cold sauce all over the bricks (necessitating taking half the oven out of the rotation long enough for it to boil and burn away enough for you to scrape it out) or scalding sauce all over yourself? I hated that guy. If I'd been in charge, we would have started charging him more each time he ordered that, until he was no longer willing to pay for it.

Which is completely irrelevant, but your question made a memory I'd forgotten for almost ten years resurface.
posted by hades at 8:02 PM on October 12, 2007

I worked at a Domino's, and my uncle did during college too. The reason you're being charged for sauce is because you're not buying your pizza from a big chain: at Domino's, the sauce is now the cheapest part of a pizza, because it comes in big bags of concentrate that are diluted around 1:1 with water to make it, you know, sauce. However, back when my uncle worked for them, it came in big cans, and was the most expensive part of a pizza.

My guess is that you're being charged extra because you're buying from a smaller pizza joint that doesn't have the luxury of buying big bags of concentrated sauce that winds up costing pennies per pie.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:08 PM on October 12, 2007

So at the places that charge for extra sauce- if you ask for light sauce do you get a price cut?
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:30 PM on October 13, 2007

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