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It’s no secret that Americans love breakfast. From chowing down on a plate of bacon and eggs to devouring a New York-style bagel, the ritual of eating iconic breakfast foods is sacred. And while the meal is truly a national treasure, it has changed a lot over the years. We broke down the price people paid for a homemade breakfast between 1937 and 2000, and it might shock you.
To put together our list of how much a family breakfast cost between 1937 and 2000, we decided what the breakfast staples over the years were and landed on a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, a 10-pound bag of potatoes, a pound of bread, a pound of coffee and a gallon of orange juice. Luckily, we already broke down how much a dozen eggs cost the year you were born. From there, we consulted the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which documents the prices of the aforementioned breakfast staples by year. We also relied on the Morris County Library’s record of food and drink prices dating back to 1900.
Believe it or not, 1 pound of bacon in 1937 would’ve set you back only 41 cents … which could buy you about one egg today. And while some of our favorite ways to cook an egg have stayed the same, it’s hard to believe that breakfast for the whole family cost only $1.79 in the ‘30s.
In 1938, breakfast cost only $1.52, with a pound of bacon clocking in at 37 cents. You may cook bacon like grandma, but you sure aren’t buying it for the same price.
In 1939, you could feed your family breakfast for a whopping $1.48. And even though bread cost only about 8 cents, iconic foods mascots Snap, Crackle, and Pop were all the rage with kids in the ‘30s after Rice Krispies cereal hit shelves the decade before.
If you’re one of those people that swear by eating an egg every day, here’s a fun fact: In 1940, a dozen eggs cost only 33 cents. And breakfast as a whole would’ve set you back $1.42, which has the same buying power as $26.37 today.
In 1941, a hearty breakfast cost you $1.61. And if you’re from the Midwest, you know it would’ve been worth it — eggs with bacon, sausage or ham are one thing Midwesterners keep on their breakfast table to this day.
We’ve already established that breakfast the year you were born has definitely changed, but can you believe that in 1942, $1.94 would’ve bought you eggs, bacon, juice, bread, coffee and potatoes? In 1942, a 10-pound bag of potatoes was only 24 cents.
In 1943, the average price of breakfast reached $2 for the first time as items like eggs and coffee got more expensive. And while cereal and other popular breakfast dishes were all the rage in the ‘40s, a spread of eggs and potatoes cost only $2.29.
In 1944, breakfast cost $2.27, but the real star this year was orange juice, which was patented after World War II and rose to popularity in American households in the ‘40s. Single-serve cereal containers, one of the least eco-friendly things you can buy at the grocery store, were also introduced.
Your grandparents weren’t kidding when they told you all the reasons to never skip breakfast. This tasty meal cost only $2.35 in 1945, and there’s a reason it's been a staple for so many years. Even as it gets more and more expensive, there’s no denying that breakfast is delicious and great for you.
While there are plenty of breakfast foods you never knew existed, everyone knows bacon and eggs. And in 1946, an entire table of breakfast cost $2.53, with eggs clocking in at 59 cents a dozen and a pound of bacon costing 53 cents.
In 1947, the cost of breakfast reached $3 for the first time ever based on our methodology standards. And although we’d love to pay those prices today, do you think in 1947 they knew how to make the best scrambled eggs ever?
Breakfast in 1948 would’ve set you back $3.16, and that was also the year Nestle introduced a game-changer across America. Quik, the fast and easy way to make chocolate milk, was quite popular in 1948 and is now one of those childhood breakfast foods you forgot existed.
Today, it might be common practice to roll out of bed and grab breakfast at your favorite fast food chain, but in 1949, when breakfast for the family cost $3.12, you sat and ate together before rushing off to work or school.
In 1950, a carton of eggs cost 60 cents and an entire breakfast could be put on the table for $3.12. But the real question is, in 1950, did they know that potato chips and other unexpected ingredients can be cooked into eggs for a life-altering breakfast experience?
In 1951, you could buy a dozen eggs for about 74 cents and a pound of bacon for 67 cents. The usual breakfast suspects would cost you $3.43 for the whole family. Making breakfast in bed for mom has never been so cheap.
On breakfast tables in the South, you might find dishes like biscuits smothered in gravy and butter, but in 1952, eggs were a much cheaper option. Butter cost 85 cents per pound, while eggs cost 67 cents per dozen. Your average run-of-the-mill breakfast cost $3.62 in 1952.
While eggs star in many vintage recipes no one makes anymore — but should, in 1953, a dozen eggs could feed your family for only 70 cents. And you could fill your entire breakfast table with bacon, potatoes, toast, coffee and orange juice for $3.56.
If you were born in 1954, $1 could get you a great club sandwich and $3.77 could get you enough breakfast foods to feed your entire family.
In 1955, the most popular breakfast food was cereal with a side of toast and coffee. Breakfast as a whole cost $3.48 — 18 cents went toward a loaf of bread and 93 cents could buy you a pound of coffee. And while it’s hard to believe that people today spend twice as much on one cup of coffee, we do have endless options at our disposal from a macchiato to a frappuccino.
While breakfast prices stayed consistent at $3.64, 1 pound of coffee made up an entire dollar of that price. No matter which year you’re looking at, there’s no denying that people love their coffee. And if you like yours with cream, take note of the healthiest and unhealthiest creamer options for your coffee.
In 1957, breakfast would’ve set you back about $3.67. And while that price accounts for the usual suspects like bacon and eggs, there was a new kid on the block in 1957. Pillsbury was selling about $5.6 million in refrigerated dough, making even the easiest homemade recipes simpler.
In 1958, the breakfast game changed forever. While folks could still whip up breakfast at home for $3.88, 1958 was the year IHOP opened its doors. People across America flocked to the restaurant chain to witness firsthand all of the unexpected ingredients that go with pancakes.
Some of the best brunch recipes include breakfast staples that have truly stood the test of time. In 1959, you could buy breakfast for your family for $3.46, which has the buying power of $30.80 today.
If you went to your favorite grocery store in 1960, you could buy all of the fixings for breakfast for $3.64. A dozen eggs would’ve set you back 57 cents and a pound of bread would've cost 20 cents.
In 1961, you could make enough hard-boiled eggs for an entire week for only 57 cents. And an entire breakfast table could be prepared for only $3.64. Today, that same breakfast would cost more than $30.
Nothing compares to waking up to the smell of bacon and eggs, and in 1962, that luxurious smell would only set you back about $3.58. But the real question isn’t how much eggs cost in the '60s — it’s should you buy brown eggs or white?
Did you know eggs can last in the freezer for up to one year? In 1963, those eggs would have cost only 55 cents and you could decorate your entire breakfast table for $3.69.
In 1964, pantry staples like sugar cost around 64 cents, while bread hit a whopping 21 cents per pound, which would set you back $1.74 today. If you wanted to provide breakfast for your entire family, it would cost you $3.88.
While 1965 was the first year breakfast for the family cost more than $4, grocery items like a carton of eggs were still priced at only 53 cents. Much of the cost in 1965 came from potatoes, which were nearly a dollar per 10-pound bag. To be more cost-effective, you could buy dehydrated potato flakes, one grocery item with a long shelf life.
As the price of bacon reached 95 cents per pound, the cost of a traditional breakfast continued to climb. Breakfast reached $4.14 in 1966, the same year instant oatmeal was introduced to shelves across America. And while you couldn’t make oatmeal in an Instant Pot until way later, the new breakfast food was a hit in the mid-’60s.
In 1967, the price of breakfast for your family dropped slightly to $3.84. This was the same year that jugs of milk started being sold in plastic instead of glass. And although your mom likely knew all of the best recipes to polish off a bottle of milk, a gallon of the hearty drink would’ve only set you back about 25 cents.
Your parents have taught you a lot, including all of the best cooking tips and tricks. And while they might have shown you the ins and outs of cooking breakfast, did they tell you that in 1968, breakfast for them and their siblings cost $4.06, or $30.73 today?
In 1969, breakfast may have set you back $4.15, but dinner was the real expense that year. Whipping up a delicious cheap steak cost more than $1.25 per pound in 1969.
The turn of the decade brought some change, including a lot of new fashion trends and the world’s first flavored instant oatmeal. But a traditional breakfast for the family stayed pretty consistent, ringing up to $4.46 in 1970.
Have you ever considered that one reason breakfast may be so popular is because it's a fairly easy and quick meal to cook? Realistically, you can make eggs, bacon and potatoes in the microwave. In 1971, a breakfast table including those menu items would’ve cost $4.58.
A breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and coffee would’ve cost you $4.55 in 1972. But the real crowd-pleaser that year was Sugar Smacks cereal. And while you can still find Sugar Smacks (now referred to as Honey Smacks) on shelves today, there are plenty of other breakfast cereals we think should make a comeback.
While breakfast for the entire family was valued at $4.73 in 1973, one buck could get you a chicken salad sandwich. Today, for about 10 times that price, you can get one of the best sandwiches in America.
Nowadays, going to your favorite restaurant or diner for breakfast is an exciting food venture. But in 1974, when $4.75 could get you a pound of bacon, coffee, orange juice and more, cooking at home was the better option.
In 1975, breakfast for the family broke $5. But by that time, the breakfast game had changed forever when McDonald’s rolled out its Egg McMuffin sandwich nationwide. That and other fast food menu items with a cult following have truly revolutionized meat and eggs.
While you could make lunch or dinner out of canned goods like tuna for only 49 cents per can, breakfast skyrocketed to $6.42 per family in 1976.
In 1977, breakfast prices continued to rise, reaching $7.49 for a table of bacon, eggs, potatoes and more. That same year, McDonald’s introduced its complete breakfast. The dish was stacked with bacon, eggs and pancakes for the whole family to enjoy.
While cake mix and other delicious ingredients used to make some of your favorite childhood desserts cost about 60 cents, breakfast as a whole cost the average American family $7.54 as prices continued to climb.
In 1979, breakfast for you and your family would have cost $7.76, but you could purchase a jar of peanut butter — an immune-boosting food — for only 99 cents. Swipe it on some toast and you’ve got a healthy and filling breakfast snack.
While three containers of yogurt would’ve set you back one buck in 1980, a platter of breakfast including bacon, eggs, potatoes, orange juice and coffee cost $7.88. And if you wanted to add some delicious fruit to the mix, red apples were valued at 60 cents per pound.
In 1981, breakfast cost a whopping $7.63. The silver lining? General Mills released a handy guide for using Bisquick at home. Families could now spice up breakfast with easy-to-make pancakes, or you could even use the product to fry food from home.
Nowadays, you can get pretty much any meal you want delivered straight to your door, but in 1982, when breakfast cost $8.72 per family, it was made at home and enjoyed together.
In 1983, a breakfast table with bacon, eggs, potatoes and more was valued at $8.50. A gallon of orange juice went for one buck, which seems like a reasonable price considering orange juice can help lower your blood pressure.
When perusing the egg aisle at the grocery store, you may wonder whether free-range eggs are one of those groceries worth a splurge. But in 1984, your parents were just shocked that eggs hit $1 per carton and an entire breakfast cost $8.56.
In 1985, we really hope that they already knew all of the best ways to cook a potato, but if not, at least they were affordable. Two dollars could get you 10 pounds of potatoes in 1985 while all the go-to breakfast fixings were valued at $8.61.
Breakfast prices climbed to $9.68 in 1986, but the one thing that made it all worth it was the invention of the breadmaker. Americans realized that carb-loading with fresh bread is far superior to its frozen counterpart. In fact, making fresh bread is still a trend in households today.
In 1987, breakfast prices dipped slightly to $9.13. Families on a budget might have skipped the bacon (which cost $2.00 that year) and centered the meal around the eggs, one food that can help you lose weight.
Did you know that the cooking habit of not letting your pan heat up before making eggs actually wastes food? It’s a trick we’re sure people cooking breakfast in 1989 would’ve liked to hear when they found out the price of eggs went up to $1. Breakfast as a meal cost $9.19.
If you were to head out to your favorite grocery store in 1989 and pick up all of the fixings for breakfast, it would have cost you a record-breaking $10.01.
Breakfast in 1990 set families back $10.79. Items like coffee cost nearly $3 and potatoes, one of the most eco-friendly things you can buy at the grocery store, were priced at $1.85.
Breakfast prices remained steady at $10.22 in 1991, and if you wanted to mix things up, you could even get cherries for about $2.25 and oranges for about 80 cents. But if you really wanted to go all out, you might have added these exotic fruits to your breakfast table.
While the usual food items on your breakfast table cost $9.50 in 1992, coffee made up $2.58 of that total price. What Americans didn’t know was that the coffee game was about to change forever. In 1992, Starbucks opened 160 stores.
In 1993, $9.44 would’ve bought you breakfast, and one buck could have gotten you a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola. But the history of America’s favorite soda is way more interesting than its retail price.
By the time 1994 hit, breakfast for the average American family cost $10.49. And if you wanted to stray away from the traditional eggs and bacon, you could pick up a sweet treat from Dunkin’ Donuts if you didn’t mind making these diet mistakes.
In 1995, an entire breakfast would’ve cost your family $11.20 with a pound of bacon making up $2 of that total price. And although bacon has remained a breakfast staple to this day, you may be cooking the iconic food the wrong way.
While the price of breakfast at home would’ve set the average American family back about $11.48 in 1996, you could also head out to Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s to pick up breakfast. And, in 1996, Burger King introduced its breakfast sandwich, which was served on a croissant — a popular food you should never make at home.
1997 was the year breakfast cost $12.22 and iconic donut shop Krispy Kreme celebrated 60 years in business. And while donuts are on the list of difficult but impressive desserts you can make, people in 1997 were all about Krispy Kreme’s famous glazed donuts.
In 1998, if you ventured out to your favorite regional supermarket, you could’ve picked up breakfast for $11.71, which has the same buying power as $18.70 today.
By 1999, Americans were figuring out all of the ways to spice up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast was more than just a hearty meal, it was an icon, and grilled chicken was no longer a boring, cheap dinner food. And even though breakfast prices in 1999 made their way to $11.58, the meal was as important as ever.
At the turn of the century, breakfast hit a record-breaking $12.05. And while the meal went through a lot of price changes over the years, the key cherished ingredients stayed pretty consistent. If you really want to see how times have changed, you have got to check out what food a dollar could buy the year you were born.
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