The “pizza slice joke” is so old that, in the original telling, “slices” were called “pieces.” A pizza parlor waitress asks a customer if he wants the pizza cut into four pieces or six pieces or eight pieces. The customer then declares that he wants either four or six pieces of pizza “because I can’t eat eight.” Of course, the size of the pie is unchanged; the eight slices are merely smaller.
Yogi Berra is usually attributed with the “pizza slice joke,” and Mickey Mantle’s statement in 1970 (see below) offers some confirmation. The “pizza slice joke” was cited in June 1965 from Wisconsin, and twice in 1965 in Wisconsin baseball contexts— attributed to Milwukee Braves manager Bobby Bragan and to Milwaukee Braves pitcher Dan Osinski.
[This entry includes research assistance from the Quote Investigator.]
Wikipedia: Yogi Berra
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra (born May 12, 1925 in St. Louis, Missouri) is a former Major League Baseball player and manager. He played almost his entire career for the New York Yankees and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. He was one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times, and one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series.
Berra, who quit school in the eighth grade, has a tendency toward malapropism and fracturing the English language in highly provocative, interesting ways. Simultaneously denying and confirming his reputation, Berra once stated, “I never said half the things I really said.”
17 June 1965, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), pg. 24, col. 2:
Ken Thompson stopped in at Dick McDaniels’ Pizza Palace the other night and ordered a pizza. When it was ready, Dick asked Ken if he wanted it cut in six or eight pieces.
ken thought for a while, and the said, “Better make it six pieces. I could never eat eight.”—Weyauwega (Wis.) Chronicle.
23 July 1965, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Aaron Strikes Again, Dodgers Fall, 5-2″ by Frank Finch, pg. B2, col. 3:
... Bobby Bragan was telling about one of his pitchers who went to a pizza joint and ordered one of the delicacies. When the clerk asked him if he wanted the pizza cut in six or eight slices he said, “cut it up in six slices. I don’t think I can eat eight.”
8 August 1965, High Point (NC) Enterprise, “Take 10 with Shinn” by Paul Shinn, pg. 2D, col. 1:
BOBBY BRAGAN, who has a controversy going with the umpires and spitballs, told a story about the Mets when he was with their organization a while back.
“I went out to eat with a couple of young Mets’ players,” he related, “and we stopped off at a pizza house. The waiter asked one of the boys whether he wanted his pizza cut into six pieces or eight pieces. ‘Better make it six,’ he answered. ‘I don’t know if I can eat eight.’”
September 20, 1965
THEY SAID IT
Dan Osinski, Milwaukee pitcher, when a waitress asked if he wanted his pizza cut into six or eight pieces: “Better make it six. I can’t eat eight.”
29 October 1965, New York (NY) Times, “Sports of The Times” by Leonard Koppett, pg. 55:
Garagiola then embarks on some of his thoughts about unheralded baseball heroes.
“Or Danny Osinski. He made my team last summer when he went in to buy a pizza pie and the waitress asked him if she should cut it into six pieces or eight pieces. ‘You better cut it in sixes,’ my man said, ‘because I can’t eat eight pieces.’”
Google News Archive
22 November 1965, Lewiston (ME) Evening Journal, “Try and Stop Me” by Bennett Cerf, pg. 18, col. 3:
Andy Wimpfheimer invaded a snack bar and demanded a giant-size pizza pie to be eaten on the premises. “I like a man with a good appetite,” approved the proprietor. “Do you want it cut in six pieces or eight pieces?” “Six by all means,” ordered ANdy. “I never could eat eight pieces.”
24 November 1970, Fresno (CA) Bee, pg. 10A, col. 1:
(Mickey Mantle quotation—ed.)
“Yogi Berra was good manager. He came within one game of winning a World Series (The Cards won 4-3 in 1964) and still got fired. Yogi had a funny way of saying things, like you’d ask what time it was and ol’ Yogi would say ‘You mean right now?’ Another time, Whitey, Yog and I went to a pizza place after a game. The waitress wanted to know if we wanted ‘em cut in eight or four pieces. Whitey and I said ‘eight’, but Yog said, deadpan, ‘Naw, cut mine in four. I don’t think I can eat eight.’”
1 October 1989, New York (NY) Times, “It’s Over for Yogi,” pg. E20:
Asked by a waitress whether he’d like his pizza cut into four pieces or eight, he replied, “Better make it four, I don’t think I can eat eight.”