Steve Eighinger

Numbers, not bodies of water, prove most fascinating

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jul. 14, 2020 12:01 am

Numbers have always fascinated me, especially statistics. Years ago, even my mom noticed.

When I was in second grade, I once overheard a conversation she had with a neighbor.

"Steve can figure batting averages and earned run averages, but he has no interest with things like multiplication tables and long division," she said.

What mom said was true. After all, I knew it would be important some day to know what Vic Davalillo's batting average was or how low Sudden Sam McDowell's ERA had fallen. As far as the multiplication tables or that long division nonsense, I'd worry about that later in life.

Well, it's 60 years later, and numbers still intrigue me. Here are some of the latest facts and figures that have piqued my interest in recent days:

Until recently, I never really knew how deep Americans' love for pizza happened to be. And then I uncovered that, as a nation, American consume the equivalent of 100 acres of pizza each and every day, and that 300 billion pizzas are sold each year in the United States. In addition, 93 percent of us eat pizza at least once a month. Or twice, three, four or more times. Jus' sayin'.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes nearly one ton of food -- 1,996 pounds -- each year. Well, some of those pizzas can be a bit weighty.

More than 10 billion doughnuts are consumed in the U.S. every year. And each and every one tastes marvelous, especially the ones with frosting and coconut.

20 percent of all American meals are now eaten in the car. That percentage would be higher if pizza wasn't so messy. You have to wait until you get home to eat the pizza. Well, at least most of the time.

Americans spend 10 percent of their disposable income on fast food every year. Does that include just burgers and fries, or does it include ice cream and other items? Asking for a friend.

OK, this truly made me stop and think. There are more cows than humans in nine states -- Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming. That is from an article on, researched by Alex Palmer, who said it was time for humans to mooo-ve aside in those states. I think I need to meet Alex.

At the opposite end of the population spectrum is New York City, where 8.5 million people call home. That is more than the number of people found in 40 out of 50 of the U.S. states

One other item of numerical interest today. Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area at 31,700 square miles, or roughly the size of Maine. Its 3 quadrillion gallons are enough to cover both North and South America under one foot of water.

Well, I don't swim, have no interest in boat rides and don't even like to drive across the Mississippi River. I try and avoid bodies of water any larger than what I encounter in my shower at home.

Yes, numbers fascinate me. But large bodies of water? Not so much.