Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time Flies...And It Costs More!

When I was a wee lad, my grandparents would often detail to me how monstrous prices had become. My grandmother often lamented the unreal increase in the price of bread. "Ya know, grandson," she would say. "It wasn't that long ago when I could buy a loaf of bread for a plum nickel." I'd sit there silently, rolling my eyes.

Of course, what I lacked then was a frame of reference! I was far too young to discern the historical increase in the cost of goods. Whatever the price of a specific item, it had remained relatively constant before my eyes and I simply accepted it as a given.

While I'm not quite as old today as my grandparents were then, I'm fast approaching that age. Just like my grandparents, I now marvel at the dramatic price increases that have spanned my time on this orb.

Tomorrow the price of one measly first class stamp increases to 44 cents. It won't be long now before the price will be 50 cents (one-half dollar!). From 1885 - 1957, the cost of a first class stamp increased by one whopping penny! In the 51 years since, the price has increased by 41 cents.

It got me to wondering about the prices for stuff in the year I was born -- 1957. Here's what I found:
  • Gasoline -- 24 cents per gallon
  • Bread -- 19 cents per loaf
  • Milk -- $1.00 per gallon
  • Eggs -- 55 cents per dozen
  • Ground Beef -- 30 cents per pound
  • Pure Maple Syrup -- 33 cents for 12 ounces
  • Campbell's Tomato Soup -- 10 cents per can
  • Broccoli -- 23 cents per bunch
  • Nabisco Saltines -- 25 cents per box
  • Average New Home Price -- around $12,000
Sources: Grocery Store Prices for 14 Items in 1957, The Year 1957 From The People History, Fifties Web: Prices for 1957

What did prices look like in the year you were born? It might be an interesting topic to explore!


  1. I remember, when I was about 8, comic books sill cost only 25 cents. You could still get a piece of bubble gum for 1 cent. I think a candy bar would cost you 25 cents, as well. I was born in 1967.

  2. Ah yes, but how much was a dollar worth then compared to now.


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