The Food Timeline--historic food prices (2023)

How can we find prices of popular items through the centuries tomake comparisoncharts?
A "Food Thru the Ages " project sounds wonderful! Unfortunately, this is not a simple task. Determining accurate historic values of consumer goods is a complicated economic process--onewhich must factor in regional differences, inflation, labor costs and personal income.To makeinternational comparisons one must also study the evolution of monetary systems and foreignexchange rates. This is why (for example) it is impossible to draw a simple chart of bread pricesthrough the ages across all cultures. If you want to compare your local prices from one decade toanother you will need to factor in the ConsumerPrice Index for your area. Numbers are supplied by the U.S. Department of Labor.

About food prices & weights
Did you know that in Great Britain that a penny-loaf was set by law? Karen Hess, culinaryhistorian, explained "Bread was the staff of life in Tudor and Stuart England, more so among thepoor than the rich.... Its importance was such that the Assizes of Bread, dating from1266, took upon itself overseeing and pricing of the bakers. The price of the loaf was fixed; theweight was permitted to fluctuate in compliance with an official table that took into account theprice of wheat and the extent of bolting. The finest regular loaf was the penny white, next thepenny wheaten...and the household penny 100% whole wheat..." (MarthaWashington's Booke of Cookery, pps 17-18). You will find a link to the Assize ofBread and the Judgement of the Pillory (the punishment for breaking this law!) inthe Food Timeline's teacher resourcespage, under the heading "laws".

If you want to make price comparisons in modern times you also have to pay close attentionto changes in weights and measures. Package sizes/weights of popular consumer goods (candybars, canned products, cereal boxes) vary greatly over the years.

(Video) Food History: TV Dinners

Delmonico's 1838 menu was reprinted in the frontmatter of Lately Thomas' book Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor. This extensive menu reflects the gourmet glory of Delmonico's exquisite meals and wine service. Curiously? These menu prices were expressed in British currency. This stuns contemporary researchers expectingthe new United States to eschew all things British. In context, it make perfect sense.We queried William Grimes, author of Appetite City about this phenomenon. He was kind to respond with this information: "The US used shillings and pence for quite some time, even after the revolution. Hence the cheap restaurants that served "shilling plates." The earliest Delmonico's menus reflect the period of transition from British-style coins to the US ones."

"Although French cuisine was gaining a foothold, the dominant cooking style in New York was still English, reflected in the profusion of oyster saloons and chophouses near the theaters, the markets and the centers of commerce...'Everything is done differently in New York form anywhere else....'...Any innovation that smoothed the flow was regarded as pure genius. Haly and Sabin's refectory on Nassau Street introduced the self-serve concept by arranging lighter dishes along a large table, allowing customers to pick and choose according to their pocket, their appetite, or their time. 'Here one can graduate his feeding precisely to his appetite, and can luxuriate from a penny's worth of bread and butter up to the full capcity of his purse.' the Tribune reported. 'Warm cakes morning, noon and night, good coffee, tea and chocolate, good steaks, etc. pies, cakes, etc. and one may fill with these for a New York shilling.'...For the present, New York's restaurants catered to every taste, at every price. In a fanciful sketch in the Broadway Journal in 1845, a 'gentleman in search of dinner' made a comic tour of the city's restaurants, driven from one dining spot to the next by a series of mishaps that whittled away at his bankroll of 'a half eagle and two shilling pieces.'...Reaching into his pocket to pay for an absinthe at the bar, the hapless gentleman realizes that one of the two shillings he gave the cabman was actually his half eagle. Suddenly, dinner at Delmonico's is off. He is now flat broke...Brooklynites who agreed paid a shilling at Bell's for roast meats (beef, lamb, veal or pork) or a shilling and a sixpence for roast fowl (chicken, goose, turkey, or duck)."
---Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York, William Grimes [North Point Press:New York] 2009 (p. 62-63, 71,72)

(Video) Food History: The California Roll

"The trend of the prices can be judged from two bills that have survived, rendered to 'J.O. Sargent' in 1840 and 1847, respectively...The 1840 bill was for four dinners (plus an incidental charge of 63 cents) at a total cost of $20.76. This works out to an average of about $5.00 per dinner...The 1847 bill was for six dinners, at a total charge of $55.50...The average cost for dinner this time was more than $9.00, though this increase might be attributed either to the fact that on two occasions, when the bill came to $17.88 and $12.00 respectively, Sargent entertained guests, or splurged on wines. The supplemental charges and costs of wines were what could run the check for a Delmonico repast up and up."
---Delmonico's: A Century of Splendor, Lately Thomas [Houghton Mifflin:Boston] 1967 (p. 45)

How much would these meals cost in today's dollars? Inflation calculators provide general numbers. What we don't know? What size were the portions and how many dishes, on average, were ordered.

(Video) American Foods That Are Banned In Other Countries

Breakfast cereal: the Kellogg's Corn Flake study
breakfast cereal manufacturers (Kelloggs, Post, Quaker, Ralston) left an indelible mark on American tables. In addition to filling generations of hungry bellies, breakfast cereals provide viable insight into our nation's economic situation. How? Prices and sizes of breakfast cereal products reflect dietary recommendations, agricultural surpluses, supply shortages, and political purpose. We selected Kellogg's Corn Flakes for our breakfast cereal price study because it has survived a century of changing consumer tastes, two WorldWars, price fixing investigations, Stagflation and (now) Agflation. It's one of the few constants in a churning bowl of changing norms.

About Kellogg's: In the beginning, Kellogg's patented foods were served exclusively to the residents of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. According to the records of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Kellogg brand cereals were introduced to the American public May 1, 1907. An interesting byproduct of this study was discovering the timeliness of Kellogg's advertising. In the earliest years, Kellogg's Corn Flakes were touted for their healthful properties as aids to digestion. During the Great Depression and WWII, Corn Flakes were promoted as meat fillers and milk extenders. In the 1950s and 1960s they were familiar, filling, and fun for afterschool and bedtime snacks. During the health-conscious1970s these unpretentious flakes led the crusade. Ads laid low during the 1980s-1990s, when pre-sweetened cereals prolifertated. In the 2000s, as we warily watch American corn crops diverted to ethanol production, Kellogg's prices rise again. What story will these prices tell 10 years from now?

(Video) Food History: The Medieval Feast | Let's Cook History | Free Documentary History

[June 29, 1907] "large size," 10 cents
[1908] no size, 10 cents
[1909] no size, 10 cents
[1910] no size, 9 cents
[1911] no size, 10 cents
[1912] no size, 9 cents
[1913] no size, 10 cents
[1914] no size, 10 cents
[1915] no size, 8 cents
[1916] no size, 8 cents
[1917] no size, 8 cents
[1918] no size, 8 cents
[1919] no size, 12 cents
[1920] no size, 11 cents
[1922] "large size," 12.5 cents
[1923] no size, 9 cents
[1924] no size, 8 cents
[1925] no size, 9 cents
[1926] no size, 10 cents
[1927] no size, 10 cents
[1928] no size, 8 cents
[1929] no size, 7 cents
[1930] 7.6 oz, 7.5 cents
[1931] no size, 9 cents
[1932] 8 oz, 25 cents/four pkgs
[1933] no size, 20 cents/three pkgs
[1934] 8 oz, 8 cents
[1935] 8 oz, 8 cents
[1936] 8 oz, 20 cents/three pkgs
[1937] no size, 7 cents
[1938] 8 oz, 13 cents/two pkgs
[1939] 8 oz, 13 cents/two pkgs
[1940] 8 oz, 11 cents/two pkgs
[1941] no size, 9 cents
[1942] 11 oz, 8 cents
[1943] 11 oz, 8 cents
[1944] 6 oz, 5 cents
[1945] 11 oz, 8 cents (also: 6 oz, 5 cents & 18 oz, 12 cents)
[1946] 6 oz, 5 cents
[1947] 13 oz, 17 cents
[1948] 8 oz, 12 cents
[1949] 13 oz, 19 cents
[1950] 8 oz, 16 cents
[1951] 8 oz, 13 cents
[1952] 8 oz, 16 cents
[1953] 8 oz, 15 cents
[1954] 8 oz, 25 cents
[1955] 12 oz, 19 cents
[1956] 8 oz, 29 cents/two pkgs
[1957] 8 oz, 17 cents
[1958] 8 oz, 18 cents
[1959] 12 oz, 22 cents
[1960] 18 oz, 27 cents
[1961] 12 oz, 23 cents
[1962] 18 oz, 27 cents
[1963] 12 oz, 23 cents
[1964] 12 oz, 29 cents
[1965] 12 oz, 25 cents
[1966] 12 oz, 25 cents
[1967] 12 oz, 29 cents
[1968] 18 oz, 39 cents
[1969] 12 oz, 29 cents
[1970] 18 oz, 38 cents
[1971] 8 oz, 21 cents
[1972] 18 oz, 37 cents
[1973] 12 oz, 25 cents
[1974] 18 oz, 43 cents
[1975] 12 oz, 45 cents
[1976] 18 oz, 69 cents
[1977] 12 oz, 50 cents
[1978] 24 oz, $1.15
[1979] 12 oz, 59 cents
[1980] 19 oz, 99 cents
[1981] 18 oz, $1.12
[1982] 18 oz, $1.25
[1983] 18 oz, 99 cents
[1984] 12 oz, 89 cents
[1985] 18 oz, $1.09
[1986] 18 oz, $1.39
[1987] 24 oz, $1.99
[1988] 18 oz, $1.49
[1989] 18 oz, $1.69
[1990] 18 oz, $1.99
[1991] 18 oz, $2.19
[1992] 18 oz, $1.99
[1993] 18 oz, $1.29
[1994] 24 oz, $2.19
[1995-1996] no prices found yet
[1997] 18oz, $2.59
[1998] 18 oz, $2.29
[1999] no prices found yet
[2000] 18 oz, $2.99
[2001-2003] no prices found yet
[2004] 12 oz, $2.99
[2005-2007] no prices found yet
[2008] 12 oz, $2.99
[2011] 12 oz., $3.79
[2012]12 oz., $3.79
[2013] 12 oz., $3.79
[2014] 18 oz, $4.19


What factors affect the prices of food? ›

Five Causes of Higher Food Prices

In the short-term, many factors affect food prices, making them volatile. These factors include supply and demand, weather, disease outbreaks, war, and natural disasters.

How much have food prices increased in 2022 UK? ›

Highly experimental research, based on web-scraped supermarket data for 30 everyday grocery items, shows that the lowest-priced items have increased in cost by around 17% over the 12 months to September 2022: an increase from 7% over the 12 months to April 2022.

What are the negative effects of increasing prices? ›

In an inflationary environment, unevenly rising prices inevitably reduce the purchasing power of some consumers, and this erosion of real income is the single biggest cost of inflation. Inflation can also distort purchasing power over time for recipients and payers of fixed interest rates.

How much did a TV cost in 1980 UK? ›

In comparison, a brand new TV in the 80s would cost £109 (£372) for a black and white set, or for a more advanced colour TV you would expect to pay £254 (£868).

Who controls the prices of food? ›

Price controls are normally mandated by the government in the free market. They are usually implemented as a means of direct economic intervention to manage the affordability of certain goods and services, including rent, gasoline, and food.

What cause food prices go up? ›

Food production costs also increased due to labor turnover, investments to protect products from contamination, and additional worker-training costs. Even the cost of transportation of food to processors and grocery stores increased as retailers placed rush orders to keep shelves stocked.

Will food prices ever come down? ›

Executives at large food manufacturers and analysts expect inflation to hover around this level for the rest of 2022. Next year, the rate of food inflation is expected to moderate — but that doesn't mean prices are going to drop. Once prices hit a certain level, they tend to stay there or go up, but rarely down.

Will the cost of living ever go down? ›

So consumers can expect that this year will be the worst for inflation, with prices estimated to go down by 2023, according to the latest Morningstar research.

Will prices go down for food 2022? ›

The increases are a result of supply constraints driven by difficult-to-predict variables— high energy prices, geopolitics and weather—but analysts with Morgan Stanley Research are forecasting that food prices will peak in 2022 and start falling in 2023.

How can we solve the problem of increasing food prices? ›

Investing in Agricultural Production
  1. Increase production levels and yields (in agriculture, horticulture, livestock, fishing, etc.)
  2. Increase access to quality seeds and tools.
  3. Improve the management of local resources.
  4. Diversify diets and incomes through the diversification of production.
25 Mar 2008

What happens to the economy when food prices increase? ›

Rising food prices increase the risk faced by lower-income households and subsequently transfer real income from lower-income consumers. Rising food prices have an adverse effect on purchasing power.

How does food prices affect poverty? ›

One of the scourges for increasing poverty is the price increase, especially food prices. Rising food prices increase income for food producers, in this case, farmers, but reduce the purchasing power of food consumers, on the other hand. For consumers, the food prices increase directly rise household spending on food.

How much is a dozen eggs in 1980? ›

The average annual price for Eggs in 1980 was $0.84 per dozen.

How much was a pint of milk in 1974? ›

158 more rows

What factors affect prices? ›

Four Major Market Factors That Affect Price
  • Costs and Expenses.
  • Supply and Demand.
  • Consumer Perceptions.
  • Competition.

Why is there a food shortage 2022? ›

2022 saw a rapid increase in food prices and shortages of food supplies around the world. The compounding crises in distinct parts of the world were caused by compounding geopolitical and economic crisis. The crises followed food security and economic crises during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is price control important? ›

Price controls can also be used to limit price increases as a way to try and reduce the rate of inflation. Maximum prices can reduce the price of food to make it more affordable, but the drawback is a maximum price may lead to lower supply and a shortage. Minimum prices can increase the price producers receive.

How can we prepare for the shortage of food in 2022? ›

How to Prepare for Food Shortage
  1. Build an Emergency Kit. Start with the creation of a kit filled with everything you'll need during emergency events, including food, water, and medical supplies. ...
  2. Stock Up on Non-Perishables. ...
  3. Create a Bountiful Garden. ...
  4. Raise Chickens or Other Animals. ...
  5. Learn These Long Term Storage Tips.
16 Oct 2022

Why are the prices of everything going up 2022? ›

Supply chains are still struggling to handle pre-pandemic demand. Increased inventory shortages mean slower deliveries. This leads to supply and demand challenges, where there is less supply of the goods people want (and need) coupled with their increasing demand, putting upward pressure on higher priced goods.

Should I stock up on food 2022? ›

Think of a stockpile as a practical emergency fund to prepare your family for whatever may come. If you have a loss of income for a time, or if prices suddenly increase due to inflation (or hyperinflation), having a stockpile will help you through. Consider it being a good steward.

What is causing inflation 2022? ›

BLS data showed that inflation eased on July to 8.5% from the 40 year peak reached on June at 9.1%. Annual inflation increased to 8.3% in August 2022, in part due to rising grocery prices. In September the Fed increased the interest for a fifth time in the year reaching a 14 year high.

Will inflation go down in 2023? ›

Nov 14 (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs said it expects a "significant" decline in U.S. inflation next year due to easing in supply chain constraints, a peak in shelter inflation and slower wage growth.

Will food prices rise in 2023? ›

“In 2023, all food prices are predicted to increase between 3% and 4%, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 2.5% and 3.5%, and food-away-from-home (restaurant) prices are predicted to increase between 4% and 5%,” the report said.

What's the cheapest state to live in? ›

As of August 2022, Mississippi is the least expensive state to live in, according to The Magnolia State has a cost of living index of 83.3.

What city has highest cost of living? ›

96 more rows
29 Jun 2022

Who benefits from inflation? ›

Inflation Can Also Help Lenders

On top of this, the higher prices of those items earn the lender more interest. For example, if the price of a television increases from $1,500 to $1,600 due to inflation, the lender makes more money because 10% interest on $1,600 is more than 10% interest on $1,500.

Which country has the highest food inflation? ›

Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ghana among 10 countries with highest food price inflation – World Bank.

Will prices ever stop going up? ›

The answer is probably never. But that's not a bad thing, as long as the increases aren't too high. It's not just the US facing that problem. In almost every advanced economy in the world, the average annual rate of inflation in the first quarter of this year was at least twice what it was last year.

Will there be a food shortage in 2030? ›

Around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030, in part due to lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global food security. Of the total number of undernourished people in 2020 (768 million): 282 million live in Africa, 418 million live in Asia, and 60 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.

What is the solution of food prices? ›

Commodity exchanges.

As long as the demand for food continues to rise faster than yield growth, markets will remain tight and prices will remain high and volatile. Thus, in the long run the only real solution to excessive volatility is to invest much more in agriculture.

What can the government do to lower food prices? ›

Attacking supply chain bottlenecks, anti-competitive behavior, and costly regulations can reduce prices paid by consumers while increasing prices paid to farmers. Of course, monetary policy is another tool to reduce inflation.

Should the government control the price of food? ›

It's been done before, typically during times of crisis, but for most mainstream economists, the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” Limiting how much companies can charge will distort markets, they argue, causing shortages and exacerbating supply chain problems while only temporarily reducing inflation.

Will food prices rise in the future? ›

In 2022, all food prices are predicted to increase between 9.5 and 10.5 percent, food-at-home prices are predicted to increase between 11.0 and 12.0 percent, and food-away-from-home prices are predicted to increase between 7.0 and 8.0 percent.

What foods are going up in price 2022? ›

Milk, butter and cheese

An increase in energy costs (now set to rise again in October 2022), as well as the cost of fertiliser, feeding the animals, and packaging the products, has contributed to the incline.

How does rising prices affect food insecurity? ›

This raises serious concerns that food price inflation could further exacerbate food insecurity, resulting in an increasing number of people going hungry or having to rely on low nutritional quality food over the winter.

Do farmers benefit from high food prices? ›

Higher input costs cut into farmers' incomes

While producers also buy food, many sell more than they buy. Evidence from prior food price hikes suggests many producers benefit from higher prices. This offers a small silver lining to the cloud of rising food prices and the pall it casts over other low-income households.

Why do poor people pay more for food? ›

Low-income households may face higher food prices for three reasons: (1) on aver- age, low-income households may spend less in supermarkets—which typically offer the lowest prices and greatest range of brands, package sizes, and quality choices; (2) low-income households are less likely to live in suburban locations ...

What are the positive effects of increasing prices? ›

Higher prices attract better quality clients

Clients or customers who only want to buy from you because you are the lowest cost provider will treat you as such. These "bottom of the barrel" clients will expect the world from you, blame all of their problems on you and leave you for a competitor in a heartbeat.

How much was a Big Mac in 1985? ›

The Big Mac Value Pack, precursor to today's Extra Value Meal, sold for $2.59 in 1985 (opens in new tab), which amounts to $6.09 in 2018. Even adjusted for inflation that's still not enough to buy the large Big Mac Extra Value Meal today, which sells for $8.

How much was a Big Mac in 1980? ›

Back then, a Big Mac from McDonald's would set you back $1.30. Today, the popular menu item averages around $6, just for the sandwich, which is a 7% increase compared to 2021.

How much did a pack of cigarettes cost in 1973? ›

Match with the search results: Here are the prices for each year: 1969 $0.31 1970 $0.31 1971 $0.32 1972 $0.32 1973 $0.33 1974 $0.33 1975 …

How much was a gallon of milk back in 1975? ›

1975: $1.57 per gallon.

How much was a cup of coffee in 1976? ›


What was a gallon of gas in 1974? ›

Supporting Information
YearRetail Gasoline Price (Current dollars/gallon)Retail Gasoline Price (Constant 2015 dollars/gallon)
84 more rows
7 Mar 2016

How much did a TV cost in 1974? ›

During the 1974 recession, the lowest-priced 19-inch TV - the most popular size and, as such, regarde as the industry bellweather - was about $250. But it contained tubes.

What are the 5 factors that affect price? ›

The main determinants that affect the price are:
  • Product Cost.
  • The Utility and Demand.
  • The extent of Competition in the market.
  • Government and Legal Regulations.
  • Pricing Objectives.
  • Marketing Methods used.

What are the 4 factors that affect price? ›

Four Major Market Factors That Affect Price
  • Costs and Expenses.
  • Supply and Demand.
  • Consumer Perceptions.
  • Competition.

What are the 7 factors that affect price? ›

7 Important Factors that Determine the Fixation of Price
  • (i) Cost of Production:
  • (ii) Demand for Product:
  • (iii) Price of Competing Firms:
  • (iv) Purchasing Power of Customers:
  • (v) Government Regulation:
  • (vi) Objective:
  • (vii) Marketing Method Used:

What are 5 factors that affect food choices? ›

  • Taste Preferences. Taste preferences often are cited as a primary motivator of individuals' food choices (Drewnowski, 1997; Drewnowski and Levine, 2003; Drewnowski et al., 1999). ...
  • Personal and Social Factors. ...
  • Employment Status. ...
  • Acculturation. ...
  • Access to Personal Transportation.

Why is pricing so important? ›

Pricing is important since it defines the value that your product are worth for you to make and for your customers to use. It is the tangible price point to let customers know whether it is worth their time and investment.

What influences the price? ›

Supply and Demand

Prices and rates change as supply or demand changes. If something is in demand and supply begins to shrink, prices will rise. If supply increases beyond current demand, prices will fall. If supply is relatively stable, prices can fluctuate higher and lower as demand increases or decreases.

What are the methods of pricing? ›

12 types of pricing strategies
  • Penetration pricing.
  • Skimming pricing.
  • High-low pricing.
  • Premium pricing.
  • Psychological pricing.
  • Bundle pricing.
  • Competitive pricing.
  • Cost-plus pricing.

What are two main factors that determine prices? ›

In Image 1, both buyers and sellers are willing to exchange the quantity Q at the price P. At this point, supply and demand are in balance. Price determination depends equally on demand and supply.

What influence does pricing have on the customers? ›

If the product is already in abundance in the market, then pricing will definitely play an important role because the increase in price will discourage customers from buying it. Similarly, if prices are lowered under such market conditions, then consumers will increase the amount that they purchase significantly.

What are the 3 main factors that influence a good price demand? ›

Unfortunately, the demand for consumer goods is affected by many different factors including product price, consumer income and expectations.

What are the four basic pricing strategies? ›

What are the 4 major pricing strategies? Value-based, competition-based, cost-plus, and dynamic pricing are all models that are used frequently, depending on the industry and business model in question.

What is the most important factor affecting the price of a product? ›

The most important factor affecting the price of a product is the product cost. The same principle also applies in case of services. The product cost will be inclusive of the cost of production, the distribution costs and the selling and promotion costs.

Are we eating better than in the past? ›

Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. But although we are getting larger and heavier, our diet has become healthier over the last 100 years.

What two main factors affect our food choices the most? ›

Hunger and satiety

Our physiological needs provide the basic determinants of food choice. Humans need energy and nutrients in order to survive and will respond to the feelings of hunger and satiety (satisfaction of appetite, state of no hunger between two eating occasions).

How do values affect food choices? ›

Values and Food Choice

Personal values (e.g., security, warm relationships with others, self-fulfillment, a sense of belonging, excitement, etc.) can possibly also influence consumption of low-involvement products, such as convenience foods, and more impulsive food choices, such as snack foods.


1. Rax Roast Beef History | Fast Food Restaurant A Short Story Rise and Fall #rax #riseandfall
(What's the Story)
2. History of Food 1/5: The Invention of Cooking
(Documentary Portal)
3. The History of the Big Mac
(Weird History Food)
4. Food History: Enlightenment Dining | Let's Cook History | Free Documentary History
(Free Documentary - History)
5. The New History Wars
(Black Power Media)
6. Food History: The Renaissance Meal | Let's Cook History | Free Documentary History
(Free Documentary - History)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Neely Ledner

Last Updated: 02/02/2023

Views: 6033

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Neely Ledner

Birthday: 1998-06-09

Address: 443 Barrows Terrace, New Jodyberg, CO 57462-5329

Phone: +2433516856029

Job: Central Legal Facilitator

Hobby: Backpacking, Jogging, Magic, Driving, Macrame, Embroidery, Foraging

Introduction: My name is Neely Ledner, I am a bright, determined, beautiful, adventurous, adventurous, spotless, calm person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.