Sausage or Pepperoni? – 2012 First Week Pizza Survey Results

For the sixth consecutive year the Mendik Library surveyed 1Ls during First Week library tours about their use of digital communication tools.  Below is a quick summary of the results. You can see all the survey questions (and the responses) here.

In addition to telling us their favorite pizza topping (answer below), 411 members of the class of 2015/16 responded to questions about:

  • their preferences in electronic communication;
  • their social networking activity;
  • their usage of Blogs, RSS feeds, Podcasts, E-Books, and Twitter; and
  • the types of electronic devices (Smartphones, Tablets, E-Book Readers, etc.) they owned.


Some of the trends we have noted before are continuing – an increased use of social media, an increasing dominance of Google in web searching and beyond, and the increased popularity of Macs versus PCs. E-Book usage is advancing slowly, but don’t expect students to emerge as big followers of Blogs.  And, the students you see with headphones or ear buds?  Chances are good they are not listening to Podcasts.

  • For the first time since we introduced the survey in 2007, the percentage of students whose preferred means of written electronic communication was E-mail has actually increased to just over 40%, following five years of steady decline, from a high of 67% (2007) to last year’s low of 37%. 

*  At the same time, a preference for mobile-based text messaging continued to rise, reaching a new high of 49%. This result is consistent with the findings of a Pew Internet & American Life Project 2011 study detailing that 73% of American adults who own cell phones (83% of Americans) send and receive text messages.  The study further found that young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 averaged nearly 110 texts per day, translating to more than 3,200 per month. Though probably unrelated, the increased usage of E-mail was accompanied by a distinct drop-off in the use of BlackBerry Messaging, which fell from 6% in 2011 to just under 1% this year.

  • Although Facebook remains the dominant social networking site for these students, favored by nearly 75%, it has lost a bit of ground to relative newcomers Google+ (4%) and Instagram (2%), as well as LinkedIn (3%) and Twitter(4%).  At the same time, almost 11% of the class is not using any social networking site, up from 8% last year.

* Significantly, this class is also using their social networking sites of choice more than predecessor classes, with 52% claiming use more than once per day, the fifth straight year witnessing an increase. 

  • Our survey included questions about Twitter for only the second time, and the results reflect its increasing prevalence. The number of students who have a Twitter account jumped from 38% in 2011 to 46% in 2012.  Tweeting on Twitter has remained relatively steady but the number of Twitter feeds students follow has increased modestly – those following more than five feeds increased from 26% to 32% and the number following between one and five feeds increased from 5% to 8%.  We would expect both types of Twitter usage to increase over time.
  • Despite the passage of time, neither Blogs nor RSS feeds are capturing the hearts and minds of these students.  The numbers of students who arrived at NYLS as subscribers to or readers of Blogs dropped from 35% in 2011 to 29% in 2012.


  • Podcasts seem to be losing what little intermittent traction they had been developing.  The percentage of students who downloaded or listened to 1-5 Podcasts dropped from 28% in 2011 to 20% in 2012.  Although the percentage of students who downloaded or listened to more than five Podcasts increased marginally (from 14% to 15%), the number of students who did not know what a Podcast was reached its highest level ever, 13% (up from 7% in 2011).


  • Continuing what had already been a steady trend, the popularity of Macs compared to PCs increased, jumping to 57% from 51% in 2011.


  • When it comes to web browsers, all three majors (Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari) lost a little ground to Google Chrome, used by 29% of incoming students.  Firefox fell from 24% in 2011 to 23%; IE fell slightly from 16.3% 15.6%; and Safari fell from 28% to 27%.


  • When asked which search engine they use most often, respondents again identified Google by a wide margin (92%), with Yahoo a mere 2% and Bing and AOL each barely achieving 1%.


  • For just the third time, we asked students which among certain specified electronic devices they owned. 

 *  Among “Smartphones,” BlackBerry lost significant ground again this year (from 32% to 15%) to both the iPhone and the Android.  That does not come as much of a surprise.  An October 16, 2012 New York Times article titled “The BlackBerry as Black Sheep” noted that in the United States, BlackBerrys accounted for less than 5% of the Smartphone market, down from 50% three years ago.

 *  iPhone ownership saw a large uptick, from 37% in 2011 to 62% in 2012, while Android ownership remained steady at 21%.

 *  Ownership of an iPad or other Tablet device nearly doubled this year, from 16% to 30%.  That result tracks the nationwide trend:  according to a September 2012 Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project report, 25% of adult Americans own a Tablet computer.

 *  Ownership of E-Book Readers, however, which now compete against Tablets for readers of E-Books, increased only marginally, from 14% to 16%.  In 2010, the first year this question was posed, E-Book Reader ownership was at only 4%.  

  • Along with the increasing ownership of Tablet devices, more students are taking advantage of E-Books – 59% (up from 48% in 2011) said they have used their computer or another electronic device (e.g., iPad or other Tablet, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader or Smartphone application) to view an E-Book.  Here, our students seem to be at the front of the curve:  another recent Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that 20% of U.S. adults read an E-Book in the past year.


  • Finally, after last year’s brief upset, Pepperoni regained its long-standing crown as students’ favorite pizza topping, pulling in 30% of the vote compared to Extra Cheese the nearest contender with 13%.  At 11%, Mushroomsrepeated, again, as a third place finisher.


*  A Tasty Aside Although we can’t say they got the idea from us, Zagat released the results of its own first-ever Pizza Survey this past June.  According to Zagat, 38% of Americans point to pepperoni as their favorite topping.  Not surprisingly, New York-style thin crust pizza was the most popular across the country, amassing a similar 38% of the vote.  Brick oven came in at 23%, Neapolitan grabbed 13%, while Chicago-style deep-dish pizza brought up the rear at 8%.  Zagat asked no questions about digital communication but they did include a question asking which toppings are the grossest.  The winner?  Anchovies.  Pineapple and Broccoli finished in second and third place, respectively.  You can find the whole Zagat survey here.

 For more information and the complete survey results, click here.