The great American pizza map(s)

Pizza is a big business in America. The two largest pizza companies in the country, Pizza Hut and Domino’s, accounted for $20 billion in sales in 2013, according to Pizza Today magazine (yes, there’s a Pizza Today magazine).

The vast majority of Americans find themselves closer to a Pizza Hut or Domino’s than any other chain, but regional chains have their strong points. Papa John’s has a big presence along the Indiana-Kentucky border. Papa Murphy’s is strong along the Interstate 5 corridor on the West Coast. Little Caesar’s dominates Michigan. Cici’s owns pockets of Texas.

Here’s a map of the closest pizza joints in the country, courtesy the mapping experts at FlowingData.com:


Map courtesy FlowingData.com

It’s no surprise that Papa John’s has a big presence in Coal Country; the third-largest pizza chain in the country, with 2013 revenues of $2.9 billion, is based in Louisville. Little Caesar’s first location was in Garden City, Mich. Papa Murphy’s was founded in Vancouver, Wash., just across the Columbia River from Portland.

Here’s a map of locations of the top-grossing pizza chains in America, another FlowingData production:

And the vast majority of Americans spend more time looking for pizza places than they do searching for strip clubs or gun shops. Here’s a map of user-generated Google Maps placemarks comparing searches for pizza, guns and strippers, compiled by another group of master cartographers at FloatingSheep.org:


Map courtesy FloatingSheep.org

Pizza may be a bipartisan affair, but pizza executives have a strong rightward tilt. A quick search of donor data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics shows those associated with pizza chains overwhelmingly donate to Republican candidates.

The top 10 pizza chains in America, according to 2013 gross sales as compiled by Pizza Today magazine:

1. Pizza Hut (Plano, Tex.) – $12.6 billion
2. Domino’s (Ann Arbor, Mich.) – $7.4 billion
3. Papa John’s (Louisville) – $2.9 billion
4. Little Caesar’s (Detroit) – $1.45 billion
5. California Pizza Kitchen (Playa Vista, Calif.) – $715 million)
6. Papa Murphy’s (Vancouver, Wash.) – $702 million
7. Sbarro (Melville, N.Y.) – $602 million
8. CiCi’s Pizza (Coppell, Tex.) – $552 million
9. Chuck E. Cheese’s (Irving, Tex.) – $410 million
10. Round Table Pizza (Concord, Calif.) – $384 million

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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