Sunday, March 14, 2021

Restaurant Menu Prices from 1938

This is a reprint from August 20, 2013 that I thought might be worth another glance.

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 picture, 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, 83 years of inflation have raised the prices a tad.


dearieme said...

Somewhere I have a CD of recordings of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band from 1917: the accompanying booklet showed a price list from Reisenweber's Cafe, NYC, where they had played.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi dearime

It would be an interesting look into times back then.

can you type in a few entrees for me with the price?

Anonymous said...

Rising food prices are for real but lobsters weren't the same delicacy as they are now. Therefore, not the best indicator for the century.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Anon 12:27

They had other things on the menu. I tend to think that lobster had the same taste then as it does today. They didn't fly it in back then, if anything it would be one of the best indicators of status for that century. Most people in the Great Depression were too poor to afford it.

dearieme said...

Sorry: I have looked but I cannot find. But what I have found is this priced NYC menu from 1926.

It came from this wonderful collection - the emphasis is on the artwork, and well merited. But clicking will reveal, I'm sure, plenty of priced dishes. Don't get too hungry.

From Los AngelesCalifornia, 1928

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi dearieme

Thank you for the links, they are very illuminating. I'm surprised that the prices were relatively constant from 1928 thru 1938.

We can wait and see what happens next.