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What does the number on pasta packaging mean?

It's time to answer a question you've never asked

1y ago

Every pasta packet carries a number on the package, near the name of the type of pasta. But what does that number mean?

There are a lot of people out there wondering about that funny little number, so let's get to it.

Does it identify the thickness of pasta?

A lot of people think this is the case, but no. Even if at first sight you may think the number is referring to the pasta's thickness, it's not.

However, there is an exception: Barilla, the famous Italian pasta maker, has a numbering system to distinguish its formats of long pasta, such as spaghetti. For example, the thin Cappellini carries number 1, and so on as the thickness of the pasta increases.

On other manufacturers' pastas, you might see things like: Spaghettini - 3, Spaghetti - 5, Linguine - 13, Bucatini - 9 , Ziti - 74. Is this just a coincidence? Yes. Even if at first sight it seems like a logical increase related to the thickness, it's not.

So, what does it mean?

The answer is quite simple: it's nothing more than an identification number. Pasta is produced in big numbers and sold worldwide in huge quantities. Every producer has its own numbering system, which helps to identify the type of pasta, and it's known as a 'cut number'.

Mystery solved!

What do you think?

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Comments (13)

  • I thought it was an Italian secret pasta society communicating with its members across the world.

      1 year ago
  • I always find it particularly difficult to find Vermicelli in the supermarket.

    I have a question : is the diameter of spaghetti or say vermicelli the SAME between different brands? If so, then cooking times would be the same. My favourite pasta is vermicelli because it is quite thin and light. It would be a big disappointment if I were to buy another brand, only to find that it was as thick as spaghetti. These things are VERY important!


      1 year ago
  • haha that was simpler than i thought it would be

      1 year ago
  • I now have Lou Bega's Mamba No. 5 stuck in my head.

    Thank you very much.


      1 year ago
  • It's the gauge of the attachment used to make the pasta's shape.

      3 months ago