Friday, 22 February 2008

Into the Wayback Machine - February 21st, 1962 - Part 2

Read it and weep... of course, remember you'd be buying it with 1962 wages as well...

Weekly Specials Mentioned in an Article by Peggy Murray

"Ontario forced rhubarb, grown indoors in the dark at about 55° to make it long and pale pink. Best known brands (sic) are called Sutton Seedless and Victoria.They are widely grown but most Toronto crops come from Holland Marsh, Peel County and Burlington. Rhubarb used to be marketed in rolled-up newspapers but now comes handsomely put up in cartons and many stores divide it into pound packs neatly done in clear wrap. Prices vary around 21 to 29 cents a pound slightly up from last week."

"There are few economy priced items on the market this week.Turnips, carrots and parsnips are about the best for slim budgets. Ontario grown carrots are 25 cents for a three-pound bag."

"Broccoli is 29 cents a bunch and there is a fair supply of fresh. Asparagus on the market selling at about 39 cents for 1/2 pound."

"Salads always give a bright, fresh taste to winter dinners -- Here are some prices. Imported radishes and green onions are specially priced at three bunches for 25 cents but lettuce is at regular prices, about two heads for 39 cents."

"Tiny cherry tomatoes sell at 35 cents a pint and large vine ripe tomatoes are 35 cents a pound. Tomatoes from the Canary Islands (think tropics and forget the weather) sell at 39 cents a pound. Celery is up to 23 cents a bunch."

"In the fruit line you will find ruby red grapefruit selling at four for 39 cents and large size navel oranges at 69 cents a dozen."

"There's one special on those long Idaho-type potatoes -- Russet Burbank potatoes are selling at 39 cents for 10 pounds."

"Chicken is on again at an exceptionally low price -- 25 cents each for grade A birds up to 3 1/2 lbs dressed. Pre-dressed fresh grade A turkey broilers are selling at 39 cents a pound."

"This week one chain store has prime rib roasts of beek at 69 cents a pound, blade roasts at 49 cents a pound, short rib roasts at 57 cents a pound, cross rib roasts at 59 cents a pound and boneless and rolled beef brisket for pot roasts at 45 cents a pound. Lean minced beef is selling at 41 cents a pound."

"There is always some interesting fish news on the market and this week it's Lake Nipigon whitefish selling at 39 cents. There's frozen codfish at 33 cents a pound pack and halibut steaks at 55 cents for a 12-oz pack."

"Polish sausage is specially priced at 49 cents a pound."

And a few more random sales items from the ads:

You could get 2 11-ounce bottles of Heinz ketchup for .49¢, or for the same price you could get 4 tins of Heinz tomato soup, or 3 tins of Heinz vegetarian baked beans or Heinz spaghetti in tomato sauce. A 16-ounce jar of bread and butter pickles would set you back .27¢.

Jane Parker angel food cake was on sale for .39¢ down from the usual .55¢. Blueberry pie was.53¢ instead of .69¢. And Vienna bread was .19¢ a loaf instead of the regular .25¢.

Here's one of the few convenience food items listed: 2 1-pound packs of Sea Seald Fish 'n' Chips would cost you .89¢ on sale from .98¢.

Bananas were .29¢ for 2 pounds; Ontario Delicious (gag, shudder) apples were .39¢ for a 3 pound bag. Florida oranges were .59¢ for a 5 pound bag. All other fruit was frozen or tinned - there was plenty of tinned.

Texas spinach was .19¢ for a 10 ounce bag. It was the only fresh green vegetable mentioned in the ads I saw; everything else was tinned or frozen.

Most meats were in the range of .39¢ to .59¢ per pound, including imported lamb. Bacon was .59¢ per pound. Corned beef brisket was expensive, at .79¢ per pound.

Many of the specials, then as now, were brand name items. However, most of it was in tins or bottles, with a few frozen items and baked goods. Apart from that, there were none of what we would now consider convenience foods. I miss those days for that. It seems like nowadays practically the only things that go on sale are over-priced, over-advertised, over-processed brand name products that I would never buy anyway.

To compare these prices to modern ones, albeit fairly crudely, I suggest you just shift the decimal. That is, think of those meats as running from $3.90 to $5.90 per pound. That would make bread $1.90 for a loaf, and that blueberry pie $5.30. Hmm, these prices still seem a little low. This would have been correct just a few years ago, but inflation does march on. Still, using this method, I can see that bananas and apples are cheaper now than they used to be, relatively speaking, and oranges are much cheaper. Vegetables in general are also cheaper now - broccoli occasionally hits the $2.90 mark, but rarely. And $7.80 for a pound of asparagus! $2.30 is about right for winter celery, but $2.00 for a head of lettuce? Well, maybe, I suppose. Potatoes at $3.90 for a 10 pound bag seem fairly dear. No doubt they have come down in price as they have ceased to be such a universal staple.

Actually, when I think about it, I think prices when I was a teenager where probably more in the "shift the decimal" range. This was over ten years earlier, so these prices would have represented an even bigger chunk out of peoples' budgets. Food really is a lot cheaper than it used to be. Which sounds like it should be good news, but it's had some dismaying side-effects as well. But that's a whole 'nother post...


Patty said...

I just found one of my old black and white negatives (from 1987) from an assignment where I was photographing homeless people. I noticed that the store behind them was advertising oranges for $1.39 for a 5 pound bag. That was near Atlanta, Ga. Today, oranges are a buck a piece in Maryland, and in the lower-end stores they look like crap.

I remember when oranges used to be big. And good. Now, grapefruits are about the size of an old-time orange, and the oranges, well..., my grandmother would be rolling over in her grave if she saw what they were trying to pass off as "food" in your average store. And the prices? Aye, yi, yi.

Patty said...

BTW: where we live you either buy what they have or you get in the car and drive 3 hours to a decent store. I don't know about you but a lot of our fresh food choices come from places like Peru, Mexico, and Chili. I know the high-end stores like Wegman's and Whole Foods get the good stuff, but where does the rest of it go? Mexico? Or maybe Canada?

Who thinks it crazy to be importing broccoli from Peru when they are growing it in your own state? No wonder the cost of food has risen so much.

We don't have any fresh food markets in my part of Maryland because people just don't care.