I've always thought that "cold pizza" was an expression used mainly to refer to a boring, uninteresting person or an unexciting event whose images call to mind that of an unappetising cold pizza.

According to Ngram "cold pizza" has been used increasingly from the early 70's.

The is no clear reference on this expression (just UD mentions it) and its figurative usage may lend itself to different interpretations at times, but I've noticed that it is often used referring to breakfast:

From The Amazing Adventures of a Marginally Successful Musician

  • If you haven't had cold pizza for breakfast, you're not a musician and therefore, I'll refund your money for this book.

From The Crossroads: A Haunted Mystery:

  • You know, in law school, we used to eat cold pizza for breakfast...

It is also the name of a TV sports morning talk show in the U.S.


1) Is the expression actually used to refer to a boring, uninteresting person?

2) What are the other (if there are) figurative usages of "cold pizza"?

3) Is it mainly, as it appears, an AmE expression?

EDIT: I know that the expression comes from some eating habits of American people, my question is about the figurative usage of what a piece of cold pizza may suggest.

  • 5
    (a) There is nothing wrong with eating cold pizza, (b) I have never heard 'cold pizza' used figuratively, and (c) I don't know why anyone would equate "cold pizza" to "boring", "uninteresting", or "unappetizing". – Hellion Jan 13 '16 at 16:59
  • 4
    "Cold pizza" refers to people who eat their leftover pizza from the previous night, either straight from the fridge or in its pizza box. I don't think there is a secondary meaning. Some Americans have tendency to buy family or jumbo-sized pizzas... even when they are single. – Mari-Lou A Jan 13 '16 at 17:07
  • 5
    I think there is a connotation about a lifestyle which includes cold pizza for breakfast. 1. The pizza is take out/delivery from group activities or festivities the prior evening 2. The household has no other breakfast options. 3. The person happily deviates from the convention that pizza is a. not for breakfast and b. should not be eaten cold. – Val Jan 13 '16 at 17:22
  • 3
    In addition, this particular quote is referring to the difficulty many musicians face, which is financial success. Leftover pizza for breakfast indicates not just that the person doesn't have anything handy to eat for breakfast other than leftovers, but that financially that may be the only option. Plus the pizza was probably paid for by someone else. As a musician, this is how I understand it. ;-) – Tim Ward Jan 13 '16 at 17:46
  • 4
    I, being a native AmE speaker, have never heard "cold pizza" used as a figure of speech. I have always seen it used in the literal sense, where someone is actually eating refrigerated, leftover pizza. In both of the usage examples you give, the individuals are literally eating cold pizza, which indicates their relative poverty as college students and musicians. – Dr. Funk Jan 13 '16 at 22:01

I undertook arduous, minute-long searches in the Ngram viewer (nothing) and on the google for search strings

"that's a cold pizza"
"it's a cold pizza"
"he's a cold pizza"
"was a cold pizza"
"is a cold pizza"

I got lots of restaurant reviews (mostly negative, of course), a link to the lyrics of the song "Cold Pizza Warm Beer" by Gaye Adegbalola

It’s just the morning after, I don’t remember who was here.
I’ll eat a slice of that cold pizza, and wash it down with warm beer.

references to the sports talk show on ESPN2, and instructions for making a palatable breakfast. Possibly the song lyric is metaphorical. I was about to give up when I ran into this from an article in Time Magazine (August 29, 2011) entitled "Another Slice of 'Cold Pizza'? The Man Most Likely to Lead Japan" about then Japanese Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who was expected to become Prime Minister:

Can Noda lead? Analysts are not sanguine. "He emerged as a compromise," says Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian studies at Temple University Japan. "He's not charismatic, or a populist or a good communicator, [and] not a particularly bold or visionary leader. He's sort of a 'Steady Eddy' and doesn't raise expectations that much. ... Says Yoshi Yamamoto, a political advisor to DPJ [Democratic Party of Japan] congressmen: "Noda seems a bit like the former LDP [Liberal Democratic Party] prime minister Keizo Obuchi [in the 1990s], generally known internationally as a 'cold pizza,' but respected domestically by working level staffers and officials as someone who listens and rewards."

I can find no uses for Urban Dictionary's claims for sexual and drug connotations.

  • Good finding, that is the usage I have heard too. – user66974 Jan 13 '16 at 18:16
  • 1
    Do you think that is a one-off usage? I have herd it used that way in spoken language, but from the comments above it appears that it is not that common, and mostly that American people actually love cold pizza. – user66974 Jan 13 '16 at 18:51
  • Who said anything about loving cold pizza? It's either laziness or sheer hunger that drives a person to eat leftover dinners for breakfast. – Mari-Lou A Jan 13 '16 at 19:01
  • 1
    A mix up of metaphors? A person who is a "cold fish" is someone who is unemotional, cold-hearted, unfeeling and unfriendly. – Mari-Lou A Jan 13 '16 at 19:17
  • 1
    @Josh61 I've never heard it used that way, but I can recall plenty of defenses of cold pizza for breakfast the next morning, which would undercut the pejorative usage. – deadrat Jan 13 '16 at 19:39

The majority of these usages are literal. If you had pizza, leftover from last night, you eat it cold in the morning for breakfast. It's not so much a metaphor as it is symbolic/representative of a unhealthy, undomesticated lifestyle. It means you're not eating a "real" breakfast, and you aren't even bothering to reheat the pizza. You're probably a hungover bachelor (or bachelorette).

  • @GoDucks - I didn't say it was indicative of an unhealthy lifestyle, I said it was symbolic of one. Two very different statements. – Chris Sunami Jan 13 '16 at 21:45

It is a tasty meal, usually comprised of leftover pizza from the night before. However some people are known to deliberately order or cook too much pizza for consumption in one night and intentionally save some in the fridge for the next day.

As well one can argue that pizza (with or without beer) has all the major food groups. At least if you have tongue in cheek.

Last, some people I know develop a taste for cold (refrigerated) versions of other Italian-American foods, such as cold lasagna.

  • Yes because as per this comment, I don't believe there's an established figurative usage, and I certainly deprecate this comment which led many to set you straight. – GoDucks Jan 25 '16 at 15:47
  • You've rolled back the edit, so I've deleted my comment. – Mari-Lou A Jan 25 '16 at 21:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy