Eat & Drink

Tracking Inflation Via The Food of My Youth

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Even prior to continuous string of awful financial downturns that have defined our past few years, many of us already knew what was up. The armchair economists, those untrained but yet still somehow immensely qualified individuals that can hear the unheard and peer into the unseen – they saw it. And their auguries were clear: Things were about to get expensive.

I saw it in the candy.


It started with Winterfresh. Childhood arithmetic always resulted in the same concrete and economically sound results. Five pieces at five cents each meant that pack of Winterfresh gum would come to exactly twenty-five cents. That’s a quarter, which would be issued to the cashier via a thumb flip forward or a plunk-and-slide. Twenty five cent Winterfresh made all the sense in the world. Then, at some point between when I stopped buying Winterfresh everyday and I started again, the price changed. What was once a sensical twenty five cents suddenly became thirty, a change that defied logic but certainly not basic economics.


The same thing happened with potato chips. See, similar to the gum, the slick convenience of a bag of potato chips is multiplied by its relative affordability. There was something infinitely convenient and slightly cool about paying for something with a coin, a single sign and talisman easily exchangeable for a salty (or sweet) snack. As Winterfresh became thirty cents, a bag of chips doubled in price. The world was turning upside down.

Once upon a time, pizza was $1.25, and in a very brief span that price has doubled. In fact, $2.50 pizza has become so prevalent that finding a slice for anything less is considered a steal,  In turn, some pizza shops exist solely in order to exploit customers’ desire to save fifty cents. That’s how bad its gotten.

Ice Cream

And then there is the ice cream. A dollar and a quarter netted you a cone at a Mr. Softee truck. Add a quarter to that and you got sprinkles. Try to do that now with the same cash and you’ll be met with a sad smile and an ice (cream) cold shoulder. Two bucks, boss.

Very little of this, of course, is particularly interesting. What it is is sad. Really, heart-wrenchingly sad – which tends to be how exercises in nostalgia turn out. You feel bad for a second, peering backwards, then the reality slides into focus: You sound like your grandparents, or perhaps an older sibling. In short, you sound old.

And you are old, because seeing change over time (and noting said change out loud) is what being old is all about. But its nice in a way because it keeps you relevant. Whenever your kids want to hear a crazy story, you can tell them about how comic books were once three dollars, and with twenty pesos you could get a significant portion of your friend group  meaningfully plastered.

Actually, you might want to leave that last part out.

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