New York mayor Bill de Blasio caught major flak earlier this year for eating a pizza with a knife and fork. (The offending cutlery ended up fetching $2,500 at a charity auction, incidentally). The “pizzagate scandal” had folks riled up because—hello?—everyone knows that you’re supposed to eat pizza with your hands.* And science says that the good old fold hold is the best technique for manual slice consumption.

No fold hold = limp pizza. (Photo: Flickr/Sharyn Morrow)

No fold hold = limp pizza slice. (Photo: Flickr/Sharyn Morrow)

Now you should probably just take our word for it, but if you do feel the need to understand said science, it’s all explained in the It’s Okay To Be Smart video above. It’s Okay To Be Smart is a science blog and PBS video series hosted by Joe Hanson, who has great hair and a Ph.D. in biology. Some of his other videos expound on why kissing feels good and the science in Game of Thrones. This one uses pizza to explain a theorem by 19th century mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. According to Wired, Gauss called it his Theorema Egregium, which means “excellent theorem” in Latin:

What does any of this have to do with pizza? Well, the pizza slice was flat before you picked it up (in math speak, it has zero Gaussian curvature). Gauss’s remarkable theorem assures us that one direction of the slice must always remain flat — no matter how you bend it, the pizza must retain a trace of its original flatness. When the slice flops over, the flat direction (shown in red below) is pointed sideways, which isn’t helpful for eating it. But by folding the pizza slice sideways, you’re forcing it to become flat in the other direction – the one that points towards your mouth. Theorema egregium, indeed.

Photo: Aatish Bhatia/ Wired

Photo: Aatish Bhatia/ Wired

Basically, bending a pizza slice one way makes it more rigid the other way. You probably already knew that from experience, but now you can bore your dinner companions with the geometry behind it.

[via Laughing Squid]

*Unless we’re talking about soupier Neapolitan pies, but let’s not get into that argument right now.