Skip

Cost of a dozen eggs: $5.29
February 10, 2009 4:38 AM   Subscribe

Evolution of the household 1950s to today, with values adjusted for inflation. (via Geek Press)
posted by caddis (49 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
conclusion : cats are watching too much tv
posted by mannequito at 4:56 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


that was a rather poor 'article' given that the statistics stated in different decades where entirely different (ie uncomparable) and the layout, although pretty, simply obsfucated the results and meaning.
posted by mary8nne at 4:59 AM on February 10, 2009 [14 favorites]


Whatever value there may be in the information, it's obscured by the maddeningly horrible layout.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:04 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Great fucking layout. And by great I mean, "makes it useless."
posted by orthogonality at 5:12 AM on February 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


people, its "Woman's Day" the layout is meant to evoke a scrapbook or the cork lined kitchen bulletinboard ;p
posted by infini at 5:33 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really wanted to know what a dozen eggs costs in the 2000s, and was badly let down.
posted by Flashman at 5:37 AM on February 10, 2009


As already stated, their choice of layout and decision to change the stats between decades really makes this painful. TI would have preferred this post had just linked to each of the article's sources.
posted by ShadowCrash at 5:42 AM on February 10, 2009


Yeah, I was really thrown by the eggs, too. $5.29 per dozen in the 50s? That seems steep, especially since that's about what you'd pay now, if your eggs were cage free, organic, laid specifically by a hen named Ursula at the height of a full moon, on a nest of triple-washed, handwoven ecologically sustainable straw, and then each egg is washed in rainbow juice before being individually nestled into a container that can be recycled into an Ikea end table.
posted by spinturtle at 5:45 AM on February 10, 2009 [15 favorites]


Agreeing with everyone. It's a cool concept, but what would really be interesting is seeing the changes in key areas, rather than discrete statistics.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:55 AM on February 10, 2009


That seems steep, especially since that's about what you'd pay now, if your eggs were cage free, organic, laid specifically by a hen named Ursula at the height of a full moon, on a nest of triple-washed, handwoven ecologically sustainable straw, and then each egg is washed in rainbow juice before being individually nestled into a container that can be recycled into an Ikea end table.

It's pretty close to what I currently have to pay in Sweden for regular free-range eggs.
posted by martinrebas at 6:05 AM on February 10, 2009


there's no way a dozen eggs cost $5.29 in the 1950s - in fact a substantial proportion of our population were still getting them for chicken feed
posted by pyramid termite at 6:10 AM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


w.c. fields "waiter, what is this?"
waiter "why, they are eggs, sir"
w.c. fields "eggs! the menstrual discharge of a verminous fowl. take them away at once and bring me whiskey!"
posted by kitchenrat at 6:14 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meh.
Redbook did it better.
posted by orme at 6:19 AM on February 10, 2009


"people, its 'Woman's Day' the layout is meant to evoke a scrapbook or the cork lined kitchen bulletinboard ;p"

Yeah, we got that. it still sucks.

I'm no fancy-schmancy "graphix designer", but perhaps you could have kept the look and made it functional. Perhaps "push pins" linked with "yarn" could have served as points and lines in graphs of various changing values.

Perhaps the pictures of houses could have been accompanied by overlaid floor plans approximating each decades' average house size.

Or pictures of typical breakfasts could accompany the varying costs of those foods.

But cute as it is, it's useless.
posted by orthogonality at 6:27 AM on February 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I actually liked the layout. It resembles a 'zine I used to put together, and I generally dig the collagey-zine-esque look because you get two-dimensions of information simultaneously, and you are free to "wander" the page and draw your own conclusions, rather than linearly being driven through it.

One statistic that always bothers me is the "time spent watching TV per household per day", as it's misleading since if you had time-spent of 8 hours, and an 8-member family, that would actually only be 1 hour per day per person. Since the average household size is roughly 2.5, and time-spent is roughly 8 hours, that ends up being ~3.2 hours spent watching TV per day per person, or in other words, the average person watches ~22 hours of TV per week. Which is still a staggering statistic to be sure.
posted by tybeet at 6:29 AM on February 10, 2009


"cute as it is, it's useless"

The same could be said of Woman's Day and of magazines in general, glorified catalogs that they are.

I liked it, layout and all.

The designer didn't design those pages for the million critical eyes of MF, anyway. Probably the ladies in the checkout line enjoyed it for a sec, then flipped to this month's Ten Ways To Drop Ten Pounds While Pleasing Your Husband And Raising Stress-Free Kids.
posted by scratch at 6:47 AM on February 10, 2009


So if you remove the inflation adjustment for household size, does that mean that in 1950 the average household has 0.7 members?
posted by blue_beetle at 6:54 AM on February 10, 2009


900 square feet for a family of three is small! My wife's boxes of memorabilia take up about half that.
posted by diogenes at 7:01 AM on February 10, 2009


there's no way a dozen eggs cost $5.29 in the 1950s

They're not claiming they did. They're claiming that a dozen eggs cost $5.29 in (probably) 2008 dollars. Depending on the inflation measure you use and what year you use to represent "the fifties," that works out to $0.65--0.90 for a dozen eggs, which seems to be in the right ballpark from a moment's googling around.

That doesn't seem too far-fetched. Lots of efficiencies gained through larger-scale production could easily bring real egg costs down 50-60%. Those ginormous battery farms are cheap per egg.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:07 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


As noted in the first comment on that page, the stats are questionable at best. 5% of income set aside for taxes? When FICA alone is 6%?

I really wish they still made houses under 1000 square feet. I share an apartment that's about 400 square feet with my fiancee, and while a little more space might be nice, we absolutely don't need a huge house. I guess there are economies of scale to building larger houses, but it just seems tragic that smaller houses are essentially unavailable anymore.
posted by explosion at 7:07 AM on February 10, 2009


The values are adjusted for inflation; so $5.29 in 2007 or 08 dollars for eggs in 1950 seems totally reasonable.

Food today is dirt fucking cheap. I doubt there has ever been a time in human history when food was as inexpensive, in terms of calories-per-labor-hour for an average individual, as they are now.

Of course, the downside to this is rampant obesity, fertilizer runoff, food that's full of drugs and chemicals, and an industrial agriculture lobby that has basically co-opted a good chunk of government, but they do deliver very cheap calories.

The reason eggs are as cheap as they are today is a direct result of the industrialization of their production. Personally I find the egg industry more disturbing than the meat-packing one, in terms of sheer cruelty and callousness to animals (fun fact: "surplus" male chicks are disposed of by tossing them live into a 'macerator,' or grinder), but that's what it takes to deliver $0.99/doz eggs to every supermarket in America.

People want cheap food, and they're willing -- apparently -- to tolerate, or at least ignore, an astounding amount of brutality in order to get it. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, since it's really the same attitude that underlies the "cheap oil" and "cheap manufactured crap" policies that bring us fuel and clothing by bankrolling various unsavory regimes or supporting sweatshops. No problem, if the price is right and the ugliness is hidden.

$5/doz eggs or $10/lb (meaning $5/serving) round steak does not sound like an unreasonable price at all, to produce those items without the industrial-scale corner cutting that is de rigeur today. Neither should be anything approaching staple foods, so for them to cost 1 or 2 hours of unskilled labor respectively seems about right.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:16 AM on February 10, 2009 [6 favorites]


explosion there are still plenty of houses under 1000 sqfeet built before the 70s. If that's what you want, just keep looking until you find one. You don't have to buy a brand new McMansion.

re the cost of eggs-- I agree $5.29 seems expensive, but is that in 2009 dollars? Also, read Michael Pollan "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" as well as many of his essays and articles about government policies started under Nixon to artificially depress the price of food.
posted by nax at 7:19 AM on February 10, 2009


Actually, assuming a more-reasonable 1/4 lb serving size, that $10/lb round steak is of course only $2.50 per serving, which is still pretty cheap. Not McD's dollar-menu cheap, but in absolute terms that's not too bad.

That I immediately jumped to a serving size of 1/2 lb is pretty suggestive of the problem we've gotten ourselves into.

posted by Kadin2048 at 7:29 AM on February 10, 2009


In the 50s it was necessary to take out a mortgage if you wanted to acquire a hen.
posted by rongorongo at 7:45 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the lessen that I take away from this: Technology and education make things that matter most much cheaper. We can get everything that is necessary in many fewer hours of work than ever before. What do we do? We redefine necessary up work even more to live in way bigger houses with fewer people.
posted by I Foody at 7:59 AM on February 10, 2009


Oh, I get it. This is a parody of Womans Day. Some cool geeks cobbled together haphazard, mismatched stats and old photos to insinuate that Womans Day editors, writers, and art staffers are dodgy duffs who can't put together a simple photo feature.
posted by terranova at 8:14 AM on February 10, 2009


I live in a 1000-square-foot house. It does limit the amount of stuff we can have, which usually isn't a bad thing; the limitations on our hobbies is probably the most inconvenient thing. There are only 2 residents most times, 3 every other weekend, and it's really plenty of space.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:22 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't mind the layout. But the inconsistency of information offered across decades DID bug the snot out of me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:33 AM on February 10, 2009


That home size statistic really shows how screwed up we really are. Do we really need two and a half times the house with fewer people?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:44 AM on February 10, 2009


What do you pay for free-range eggs today in the US? I was just buying groceries, and noticed that six eggs sold for the equivalent of $2.25, but that's only because the USD has become more expensive relative to the SEK recently. Last summer, a dozen eggs would have cost me $6. This is in the cheapest store within a 3-mile radius.
posted by martinrebas at 9:04 AM on February 10, 2009


They had a helluva workforce in the 70's, apparently: 44% women and 78% men! I don't think we exceed 100% combined these days. We suck.
posted by jamstigator at 9:43 AM on February 10, 2009


What do you pay for free-range eggs today in the US?

Northeast US data point: According to the online shopping site for one of my local groceries, cage free-eggs range from $3.19 to $5.98 per dozen (primarily in the $3 range), with most of the variation based on if they're also vegetarian-fed, organic, etc. If you take away the free-range requirement, they go as low as $1.99.

I buy my eggs at a (different, no online shopping) grocery, but they're from a co-op of local producers, and are cage-free, vegetarian, organic. I pay less than $4.00/dozen USD.
posted by spinturtle at 10:30 AM on February 10, 2009


I live in London with my wife, daughter and cat in a house from the 1830s. It is just under 1000 square feet and is perfectly liveable (and I'm sure you'll find plenty of city dwellers who think the same thing about their sub 1k houses and apartments).

I do think 1000 square feet means you need to be a bit more discriminating about what you buy...But then again I've never actually wanted a fridge the size of a car, a home cinema or, for that matter, one of those ghastly "great rooms" that allow the McMansion set to live out their widescreen Tudor fantasies. Having a small-ish house is only really an issue for those who covet size-plus vulgar crap and I'd far rather live in a cute Regency townhouse than have a separate media room.

As they say, it's not just size, it's what you do with it.
posted by rhymer at 10:32 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the hell is a non-necessity? I am an egotist with OCD. I need everything.
posted by mattbucher at 11:18 AM on February 10, 2009


Garages are included in square foot estimates, and in the 50's, people used carports mostly. (At least in the south, there were almost no enclosed garages like those that are standard modern build options.) So...while I'm willing to agree that the house I built in 1999 is bigger than the one my grandfather built in 1950, it's not 3x bigger.

Eggs: I pick up mine from a local farm, and you have to shoo the chickens out of the way walking up to the farm, and bring your own carton, and I we pay about 10 cents per egg.


But back to the article...full of suck. Non-relational data points are just annoying.
posted by dejah420 at 1:13 PM on February 10, 2009


Garages are included in square foot estimates

If that's the norm where you are, you're in an unusual area. In most of the US, square footage is only finished living space.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:59 PM on February 10, 2009


Regarding the cost of food: that figure isn't far off. Food was indeed more expensive relative to other costs of living back then.

One of the well-documented criticisms of the calculation of the federal poverty line has to do with precisely the fact that food prices, as a fraction of household expenses, have decreased. In 1963, Orshansky developed the poverty threshold for the US gov't by using the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet and tripling it, since at that time Americans were spending 1/3 of their income on food. The same calculus is used today: a minimal-cost subsistance diet (IIRC the Thrifty Food Plan) is proposed by the USDA, priced, and then tripled -- and that's poverty line.

The trouble is -- as you can see by how expensive the 1950s eggs seem -- that today food comprises a smaller fraction of most people's expenditures, while housing, medical care, transportation, appliances, and utilities have risen relatively. As a result, a poverty line based on tripling the price of a subsistence diet is really rather insufficient to cover typical expenses of frugal living.
posted by Westringia F. at 3:09 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder how the acreage these houses are on has changed. As my mom's fond of saying, "If you're so rich, how come I can see your house?" My dream house isn't huge on a tiny plot of land; it's moderate to tiny and on a decent piece of land.
posted by Eideteker at 4:03 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I feel there is some point somewhere in here, but the non-comparable "stats snapshots" obscure it. It reminds me of nothing so much as those logic puzzles that tell you that Mr Smith lives next door to a green house, Mr Jones has a pet with four legs, Mr Johnson eats sandwiches for lunch, Mr Brown drives a red car, and Mr Baker has two children, and then ask who lives in the middle house?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:54 PM on February 10, 2009


What is annoying? Posers.
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on February 10, 2009


I'm confused. If all numbers are adjusted, how many eggs were in a dozen in 1950?
posted by pwnguin at 6:40 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was really thrown by the eggs, too. $5.29 per dozen in the 50s? That seems steep, especially since that's about what you'd pay now, if your eggs were cage free, organic, laid specifically by a hen named Ursula at the height of a full moon, on a nest of triple-washed, handwoven ecologically sustainable straw, and then each egg is washed in rainbow juice before being individually nestled into a container that can be recycled into an Ikea end table.

Or if you bought them at Whole Foods.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:36 PM on February 10, 2009


As my mom's fond of saying, "If you're so rich, how come I can see your house?" My dream house isn't huge on a tiny plot of land; it's moderate to tiny and on a decent piece of land.

I want to engrave that on signposts on all the new developments around here.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:44 PM on February 10, 2009


If things are cheaper now, This Is The Reason Why.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on February 10, 2009


We treat people every bit as poorly as chickens.

The chickens have better publicists.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 PM on February 10, 2009


Everybody involved in conceptualising, designing, artworking and approving that layout should be rounded up and shot.
posted by dickasso at 12:37 AM on February 11, 2009


now there was a snark that fell thud
posted by infini at 6:52 AM on February 11, 2009


What do you pay for free-range eggs today in the US?

I pay $8/dozen. No joke.

We treat people every bit as poorly as chickens.

Not generally true.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:49 PM on February 11, 2009


true.

Also, look for photos of electronics recycling in China. Horrifying.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on February 11, 2009


« Older A Bad Start to the Year of the Ox   |   1234567890 Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post