Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?

A dime could actually buy you something at one time.

Here's a menu from Woolworth's lunch counter from the 1950s

Sound cheap?

Well it is!

Let's see exactly how cheap by comparing 1950's dollars to 2009 dollars.

Using this table and generously assuming the menu dates from exactly 1950, and also adjusting for inflation since 2007 when the calculator was made, we get the following prices:

Egg Salad Sandwich  $2.75
Triple Decker Sandwich  $5.75
Super DeLuxe Ham Sandwich  $3.59

Two Scoop Malted, Milkshake, or DeLuxe Sundae  $2.19
Slice of Pie, Cake or a Cup of Cocoa  $1.49

King Sized Coke  89¢

So it's not JUST inflation at work here.  It's the current trend of overcharging for basic staples and comfort foods.  You would think that in an age of advanced farming, transport, manufacturing, food preparation and marketing, that basic foodstuffs would be cheaper now than in the past when it was harder work to make such things.  But apparently modern business philosophy dictates the necessity to squeeze larger and larger profits out of everything.  Too many comfort food establishments will easily charge you 2x or 3x more than the prices here and still offer you subpar food (as you'd get from woolworth but without the friendly waitress) but we still love our retro chic restaurants despite the crappy food and high prices.

Think about that next time you buy a $4 coffee, a $12 burger and a $6 milkshake.




Anonymous said...

Whenever I buy breakfast out, I think of the Woolworth's counter in Ridgefield CT. Where breakfast cost about what I could find in my parent's couch and dryer.

Kreg said...

I still remember the Woolworth's where I grew up in Nyack, NY. It was a five and dime. Did that mean everything was a nickel or a dime? Wonder what it would be called now with inflation? I'm just sayin...