Sunday, February 08, 2015

Restaurant Menu Prices From 1938

Here is a reprint from two years ago for some of you that might have missed it.

I was searching through some picture albums of my parents from way back and ran into some restaurant menus  from the depression era of late 1930's.. The first 3 pictures are from the Manhattan  Restaurant


The Second menu (three pictures) is on the Union Pacific Railroad from 1937 somewhere in Wyoming.

This last menu is from the Hotel Windermere in Chicago 1937.

Double click on the images to see what the prices were back then.   Did you notice that the Manhattan offered a broiled (Whole) lobster for 65 cents?  In today's world, you'd be lucky to get half a lobster for $30.  Bear in mind, the people that read these menus in real time are probably dead by now.

The pay raise that everyone gets each year because of inflation is just an allusion. Look around, the new hires are starting out a few pennies less than what the seasoned workers are making.  The neat thing about inflation is that Congress doesn't have to raise the tax rates, you earn more, you pay more.  That's the real difference between the Democrats and Republicans; print as you go verses pay as you go.

The real odd thing is that the average person does not connect the dots. The relationship between government spending and inflation does not exist. Rumor has it, we've always had inflation-- I guess we're supposed to get used to it.  My wife bought a new battery and asked me to guess how much she paid for it, and I said $40.  Her answer; "That's the price you would have paid 20 years ago, the battery was $100."

Let's see,(from top menu third pic red part) I'll have the broiled lobster with coffee and a slice of cake--that's about 85 cents total, plus 15 cents for a tip.  The trouble is, 76 years of inflation have raised the prices a tad.


Jeff said...

Totally agree. I just paid close to $100 for my wife's new car battery today and that was from Costco. I would say Inflation, not compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.

Sackerson said...

Love it, am putting it on FB!

Paddington said...

And yet, industrial wages in the US have actually gotten lower. I started work full-time in 1984. Based on salary increases, we've had about 300% basic inflation since then, not counting electronics and cars.

AIM said...

We rarely ever eat out in restaurants. Today a nice meal for two in an decent restaurant is the equivalent of groceries for the week.

Inflation fit so perfectly with the "boiled frog" analog. Most Americans never feel the temperature rising degree by degree.

It's too late when you all of a sudden realize that you're a boiled frog (or lobster).

Joseph Oppenheim said...

Also age inflation. Life expectancy has increased about 20 years since then.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Joseph

I don't think we can blame the politicians for "Age inflation," but I'm sure they would love to take credit for it.

Not sure about the 20 years though, my wife use to kick me when I snored, now that I've reached retirement age, she kicks me when I stop snoring, just to see if I'm still alive.

Jim in San Marcos said...


The analogy fits for our generation, but the young today, starting out, the prices today are base prices. I saw a young girl buy a pack of smokes for $6 and not bat an eyelash.

My grandfather lived to be 98 and I can't remember how many times he said that a loaf of bread was 5 cents when he was young.

At the time we knew that a loaf of bread was 35 cents and had no idea what he was talking about.

Today a loaf of bread is 90 cents, but I can remember back to when coffee was a quarter a cup.

I went down to PEP boys the other day to pick up a case of motor oil and its no longer 60 cents a quart, more like $3.60 a quart. I'm still wondering where I parked my brain during the price increase.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Jeff

Cute, it is a wonder alright, when you open your wallet, you wonder where it all went.

The good thing, is that you shopped around for the best price on a battery. It could have cost even more.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Sack

FB worked, hits are up on my site.

Many thanks

worldwidemenucovers said...

Thanks for posting such a nice and informative blog.I appreciate you for posting this blog.

Restaurant menu covers

Sofia Lazzarin said...

Wow! I'm surprised. I'm brazilian and I chocked that all of you are complaining about those prices. Here is so difficult to live (economically). We get salaries that don't match the expensive store prices. If I'm not wrong, in the USA, they get salaries that match the expensive prices. I'm just guessing, anyway.
By the way, in 30's the prices were very low! Prices I never dreamed there might have been! This post was so great and helpfull to my researches. Thank you so much.