Sunday, November 16, 2008

The good old days

Here is my receipt from a shopping trip to Fry's the other day:

To interpret for you: I spent a total of $26.70, and using my VIP card (the store discount card), I saved an astonishing $42.58, for a total discount of 61%. Woohoo!

Fry's is running some killer sales lately, probably because gas is so cheap again. We really noticed the jump in food prices since we bought food in May right before things were ramping up to get expensive, spent the whole summer not cooking in Middlebury (and thus not buying food), and then being re-introduced to new, higher prices in September. Really, though, the prices themselves haven't gone up. The stores and food producers are tricky that way. Rather, the packages and containers are smaller and the sales are not as steeply discounted.

Gas in Tucson these days is around $2.25, which I guess is a steal compared to recent prices. I personally remember when it was 99 cents per gallon. When I got my license, the price had gone up 25 or 30 cents, occasionally jumping up to $1.55.

I didn't keep tabs on the price of milk back in the day, but now you can usually find it at one store or another for around $2.50 per gallon. A great sale is $1.88.

As for stuff I did keep tabs on as a fancy-free teenager: Yoplait yogurt (aaahhh, forbidden delicious non-store brand yogurt, which my mom refused to subsidize) could be had on a good sale, 4/$1.00. Now a good sale is more like 2/$1.00. Laffy Taffy were five cents each, compared to 20 or 25 cents each now. Jamba Juice was called Zuka juice, and most of their smoothies were under $3.00. Candy bars regularly went on sale for 4 or even 5 for a dollar. And a good meal at a restaurant called Macheesmo Mouse (dumb name, awesome food, similar to but better than Chipotle) was $3.25, with all the fresh salsa you wanted.

What do you remember? And what are the prices like now in your area?


Scotty P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scotty P said...

(Sorry, I deleted my first comment because I posted a faulty link).

The shrinking product phenomenon bothers me. Particularly when manufacturers attempt to hide the fact that they are making their products smaller.

A perfect example of this is Cadbury eggs, one of my all-time favorites. Check this youtube clip out with Office writer BJ Novak on the Conan O'Brien show. Insane:

EmmySue said...

As an ice cream addict, I have noticed that the ice cream packages are significantly smaller now than before. I guess if you want to keep the same price you have to make it smaller. It is a conspiracy. We also love the Little Ceasars $5 Hot and Ready pepperoni pizzas and were sure the prices would go up... and they finally did. You can still get the pepperoni or cheese pizza for $5 but all other one topping pizzas are now $6 (used to be $5) and all additional toppings are now $1.50 instead of a $1. OYE!
I remember going to a local gas station called Bucks (in Idaho Falls) and getting Tiny Tarts for 10 cents. Those were the days!

Bridget said...

That was a great video, Scott. Especially since I noticed the same thing! At Halloween, I also noticed that York peppermint patties and all the fun size candy bars are smaller than they used to be. Also, a lot of packages of things at the store that used to be 16 oz (like pasta, for example) are now 12 oz. It's like 12 oz is the new pound, just like 1.5 quarts is the new half gallon.

Ben said...

Gas here in UT has been dropping like a rock too. Yesterday I saw it for $1.87. I have noticed that about smaller containers and fewer sales too...especially ice cream. They used to have 2 qt. containers (1/2 gallon)...then they went to 1.75. Now I see them at 1.5. It is really perturbing actually. Not that I care that much for ice cream, but Ashley (my wife) can't go too long without it.
Inflation...hmmm...I could make almost any topic poltical, but I won't.

Craig said...

(Suzanne is using Craig's computer)

Gas is dropping to near $2/gallon here--saw $2.15 today & hear Costco is down to $2.02. Never thought we would see such a bargain again, but am sure it won't last.

I specifically recall milk costing $1.49/gallon in 1977 in Ridgecrest.

Two aspects of merchandising bug me. First, the 'shrinking product phenomenon' (thanks Scott). Do they think we won't notice? Do they expect us to believe the line "we're meeting customer demand"? I don't know about you, but I haven't been writing letters to companies asking them to charge me the same price for a smaller amount of ice cream.

Second, the 'what goes up in price due to a "shortage" will never come back down' phenomenon. Except for the recent drop in gas prices, this rarely happens. Example: some time ago there was a sugar shortage due to a crisis in the sugar beet industry. Sugar shot up. We made one bag last for many months--no baking allowed. When the sugar beet problem eased, sugar didn't even come near to its former price. Savvy consumers were sure the whole thing was a ruse to raise the price permanently.

Scotty P said...

Okay. This is strange. Youtube (perhaps at the behest of Cabury?) has pulled the video I posted earlier. Here is a link to the same video at a different site:

Steven said...

I remember paying $4.05 for gas the other week. But I think it's half that now, like mom said.

And there is no way Macheesmo Mouse is better than chipotle.

Bridget said...

"And there is no way Macheesmo Mouse is better than chipotle."

...says the guy who's never been there.

Scott, I can still see the video on YouTube.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Amen on Macheezmo Mouse. Baja Fresh & Chipotle are poor substitutes. The company was hurting, then the founder was killed in a plane crash (along w/ 3 of his sons). Whoever holds the rights to the recipes needs to quit sitting on his/her can & open up a restaurant! I'll be first in line . . .

Teresa said...

Mmm, Macheesmo! Gas was 2.07 today in IF- yay! Especially good news for us, since we are driving to Portland this weekend

Craig said...

Okay, this is really Craig this time.

At the risk of revealing that I am a dinosaur, I confess I remember gas at 32 cents per gallon when I started driving. Late 60's. Strangely, I've heard it was relatively more expensive then than now, either due to inflation, or at least in comparison to other costs of driving (insurance, vehicle depreciation, etc.).

And I have vivid memories of when my world crashed around me when I learned Tillamook Ice Cream was going from 2.0 to 1.75 quarts (due to customer demand, of course).

Susanne said...

Gas was $1.78/gallon in Upstate SC this weekend. In my area, the cheapest I've seen is $1.87 today.

OTOH, I never see milk as cheap as Bridget does in AZ! Presently a gallon of store-brand milk is about $3.79.

Erika said...

I finally saw it for 1.99 yesterday! (I'm also in Tucson too)


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