What Food a Dollar Could Buy the Year You Were Born
atlantic-kid/istockphoto.com

What Food a Dollar Could Buy the Year You Were Born Gallery

What could quarters could get you from 1937 until 2000?
What Food a Dollar Could Buy the Year You Were Born
atlantic-kid/istockphoto.com

What Food a Dollar Could Buy the Year You Were Born

What Food a Dollar Could Buy the Year You Were Born
atlantic-kid/istockphoto.com

With movie tickets now $20 a pop and cocktails costing double digits, it seems nearly impossible to purchase anything substantial for a dollar. But there was a time when a few quarters could get you a lot. In fact, it could get you a lot of one very important thing: food.

“In the 1930s, spending a dollar was a splurge,” food historian and author of “A Square Meal” Jane Ziegelman told us. “You could get a romantic dinner for two at the nicest restaurant in town for a buck.”

As we enter into an era where the “dollar menu” often has items that cost more, we were curious how much a dollar could actually buy you over the decades. To do this, we relied on vintage menus and grocery store flyers, as well as historical data from the Morris County Library in New Jersey to get a sense of what you could get while dining out.

So, if you’re curious exactly what you (or your grandfather) were eating for a buck back in the day, click through the gallery to find out exactly what food you could buy for a dollar from 1937 until 2000.

1937: A Spring Roast Chicken

1937: A Spring Roast Chicken
istockphoto.com

The same year Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo, Yee Hop Chinese restaurant in New York served up a whole chicken dish for a dollar.

1938: 2 Gallons of Vitamin D Milk

1938: 2 Gallons of Vitamin D Milk
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The same year the Nestle Crunch bar was invented, you could get two gallons of Vitamin D Milk for one dollar, or one for 50 cents each.

1939: 4 Pounds of Butter

1939: 4 Pounds of Butter
istockphoto.com

In 1939, you could get four pounds of butter for just one buck and nibble on seedless watermelon, which was developed during this time.

1940: Four Cans of Spam

1940: Four Cans of Spam
itemmaster/Spam

The York Peppermint Patty was introduced this year, but you could also pick up four cans of Spam (12 ounces each) at the supermarket for just one dollar.

1941: 2 Gallons of Sweet Cider

1941: 2 Gallons of Sweet Cider
istockphoto.com

You could get two gallons of sweet cider for just one buck during this time. It was also an exciting time: The first daily nutrition guide was published, making people aware of what exactly they were eating.

1942: Four Jars of Mayonnaise

1942: Four Jars of Mayonnaise
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Neil Fletcher created the corn dog for the Texas State Fair this year, and you could grab four 1-pint jars of mayonnaise for just a dollar.

1943: 5 Root Beer Floats

1943: 5 Root Beer Floats
istockphoto.com

You could get the whole family a treat by only paying one dollar for five root beer floats at McDonald’s in 1943. It was also when the country started rationing canned food, butter, meat, cheese, and other cooking materials for World War II.

1944: Beluga Caviar

1944: Beluga Caviar
istockphoto.com

Beluga caviar is the most expensive type of caviar today, with prices ranging from $3,200 to $4,500 a pound. But you could get some at Mike’s Ship-A-Hoy restaurant in New York for a dollar.

1945: Five 1-Pound Grape Jelly Jars

1945: Five 1-Pound Grape Jelly Jars
istockphoto.com

Everyone loves a PB&J sandwich, but what was even better was the price for jelly! For just one dollar, you could get five 1-pound grape jelly jars.

1946: Twelve Cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup

1946: Twelve Cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup
NoDerog/istockphoto.com

If you were feeling sick, don’t fret, because you could get twelve 10.5-ounce cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in 1946 — or it was just 25 cents for three 10.5-ounce cans.

1947: 4 Servings of Brown Bread

1947: 4 Servings of Brown Bread
istockphoto.com

At your local A&P, you could get four servings of brown bread for just a buck. The same year, the first food processors hit the market.

1948: French Toast, Strip of Bacon, and Marmalade

1948: French Toast, Strip of Bacon, and Marmalade
istockphoto.com

While popcorn was being sold on a mass scale for the first time, you could order
French toast with a strip of bacon and marmalade for a dollar at Lark on the Southern Lines Pacific, a California-based train.

1949: Four Bags of Potato Chips

1949: Four Bags of Potato Chips
istockphoto.com

In 1949, you could eat all the chips you wanted. It was just a dollar for four 5-ounce bags of potato chips.

1950: 8 Pounds of Grapes

 1950: 8 Pounds of Grapes
istockphoto.com

It was easy to stock up on grapes in 1950: You could get 8 pounds of grapes for a dollar, or 25 cents for two pounds.

1951: 4 Servings of French Fried Potatoes

1951: 4 Servings of French Fried Potatoes
istockphoto.com

If you had a dollar, you could get four servings of French fried potatoes, or if you weren’t super hungry, it was just 25 cents for one order.

1952: Two Heinekens

1952: Two Heinekens
istockphoto.com

A microwave meal might be cheap today, but in 1952 it was a microwave oven that cost over a thousand dollars. That same year you could order two Heinekens at The White Turkey in Connecticut for 50 cents each.

1953: One Melted Cheese Sandwich, One Bacon or Ham and Egg Sandwich, and a Side of French Fried Potatoes

1953: One Melted Cheese Sandwich, One Bacon or Ham and Egg Sandwich, and a side of French Fried Potatoes

1954: Club Sandwich

1954: Club Sandwich
istockphoto.com

A classic club sandwich would only set you back a buck at the River View Inn in Delawanna, New Jersey.

1955: Four Jars of Pickles

1955: Four Jars of Pickles
istockphoto.com

For just one buck, you could purchase four 32-ounce jars of pickles at the local store.

1956: 8 Pounds of Bananas

1956: 8 Pounds of Bananas
istockphoto.com

An exciting time in the United States: Disneyland in California is open and selling amusement park food. You could also get 8 pounds of bananas for a dollar in 1956, or 25 cents for 2 pounds of bananas.

1957: Four Boxes of Nestle’s Cocoa

1957: Four Boxes of Nestle’s Cocoa
istockphoto.com

Tuna noodle casserole and creamed beef on toast were common dinner foods during this year, but you could also grab four 8-ounce boxes of Nestle’s cocoa.

1958: 24 Lemons

1958: 24 Lemons
istockphoto.com

You could grab 24 lemons on your way home from work, or if that was too much, you could get six lemons for 25 cents. The hula hoop became a national craze this year.

1959: Five Packages of American Cheese Slices

1959: Five Packages of American Cheese Slices
istockphoto.com

The Barbie Doll was launched in 1959 and you could also get five 6-ounce packages of American cheese slices.

1960: Two Packages of Cap’n John’s Flounder Fillet

1960: Two Packages of Cap’n John’s Flounder Fillet
istockphoto.com

It was an exciting time in New York: The first Teflon nonstick cookware went on sale at Macy’s. If you craved fish for dinner, you could get two 10-ounce packages of Cap’n John’s Flounder fillet for just a buck.

1961: 4 Cantaloupes

1961: 4 Cantaloupes
istockphoto.com

Fritos corn chips appeared during this time, and you could also get four cantaloupes for a dollar.

1962: 4 Large Bunches of Broccoli

1962: 4 Large Bunches of Broccoli
istockphoto.com

If you took a trip to the store, you could grab four large bunches of broccoli for a healthy dinner, all for a dollar. Diet Rite, the first sugar-free soda, was introduced this year.

1963: Three Cans of Planter’s Peanuts

1963: Three Cans of Planter’s Peanuts
jfmdesign/istockphoto.com

While some people danced at the first disco in the United States (called “Whiskey a Go-Go”) you could buy three 7-ounce cans of Planter’s Peanuts for a buck.

1964: Three Cans of Chicken of the Sea Tuna

1964: Three Cans of Chicken of the Sea Tuna
Chicken of the Sea/itemmaster

You could grab three 6.5-ounce cans of Chicken of the Sea tuna while you listened to the Beatles, who were rapidly taking over America.

1965: Five Bottles of Heinz Ketchup

1965: Five Bottles of Heinz Ketchup
Eyewave/istockphoto.com

A dollar could get you five 14-ounce bottles of Heinz ketchup. Also, General Foods introduced Cool Whip, and within three months it was the top selling whipped topping product.

 

1966: Champagne Cocktail

1966: Champagne Cocktail

Aaron B./Yelp

Live long and prosper, because this is the year that “Star Trek” aired and you could cheers to that with a Champagne cocktail that cost one dollar at The Morgan House in Lee, Massachusetts.

1967: A Small Mozzarella Cheese Pizza From Pizza Hut

1967: A Small Mozzarella Cheese Pizza From Pizza Hut

Left: Jonathan Weiss/Dreamstime.com; Right: Christie L./Yelp

You can still get a slice of pizza for 99 cents in New York City. But, back in 1967 you could get a whole small pie for just under a buck. The first handheld calculator was also introduced this year.

1968: Three Bags of Shop Rite French Fries

1968: Three Bags of Shop Rite French Fries
istockphoto.com

If you wanted your salt fix, you could head over to a Shop Rite supermarket and get three 2-pound bags of their french fries for just a buck. More exciting news: The Apollo 7 mission was launched by NASA this year.

1969: Almost 3 Frostys

1969: Almost 3 Frostys

John L./Yelp

The first Wendy’s opened, introducing the Wendy’s Frosty, which has seen a relatively stable price for some time. In 1969, this dessert cost just $0.35; for your dollar plus a nickel, you could get three.

1970: 2 Chili Dogs

1970: 2 Chili Dogs
istockphoto.com

At the A&W Root Beer Drive-In, you could grab two chili dogs for just a buck.

1971: 1 Pound of Ground Coffee

1971: 1 Pound of Ground Coffee
istockphoto.com

For just 98 cents, you could grab 1 pound of ground coffee. People ate homemade Chex Mix during this time, which wouldn’t be sold in stores for another 15 years.

1972: 4 Large Heads of Iceberg Lettuce

1972: 4 Large Heads of Iceberg Lettuce
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While Marlon Brando made his appearance in “The Godfather” movie, you could pick up four large heads of iceberg lettuce for a dollar.

1973: 5 Sodas From McDonalds

1973: 5 Sodas From McDonalds
lenscap67/istockphoto.com

Secretariat was the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 25 years. Meanwhile, you could fill up on five sodas from McDonald’s while watching the famous horse races.

1974: 2 Bowls of Miracle Margarine

1974: 2 Bowls of Miracle Margarine
istockphoto.com

While America was fascinated by quiche, carrot cake and reading Stephen King’s novel “Carrie,” there was still nothing better than getting two bowls of Miracle Margarine at the local grocery store for a dollar.

1975: 10 Navel Oranges

1975: 10 Navel Oranges
istockphoto.com

Ten navel oranges would cost you a buck, or 10 cents each, at the store.

 

1976: 5 Cucumbers

1976: 5 Cucumbers
istockphoto.com

The world got smarter: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the Apple Computer Company in 1976. You could also get five cucumbers for a dollar.

1977: Two Packages of Mueller’s Spaghetti

1977: Two Packages of Mueller’s Spaghetti

Pop Rocks candy and John Travolta were trending this year, but if you wanted to get something for a dollar, you could get two 1-pound packages of Mueller’s Spaghetti on the shelves.

1978: 5 Pounds of Onions

1978: 5 Pounds of Onions
istockphoto.com

Louise Brown, the very first test tube baby, was born. You could also pick up 5 pounds of onions for a dollar, enough to make onion rings for a crowd.

1979: One Jar of Skippy Peanut Butter

1979: One Jar of Skippy Peanut Butter
franckreporter/istockphoto.com

Ring Pops came out in 1979 and you could get a jar of Skippy peanut butter for 99 cents.

1980: Three Containers of La Yogurt

1980: Three Containers of La Yogurt
La Yogurt/Itemmaster

Times were changing in the ‘80s, when a dollar could you get three 6-ounce containers of La Yogurt. The newest sandwich craze in 1980 was the sloppy Joe.

1981: Tossed Garden Greens Salad

1981: Tossed Garden Greens Salad
istockphoto.com

The Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia, offered a tossed garden greens salad for one dollar. The latest candy trend this year was Skittles.

1982: 1-Pound Package of Keebler Crackers

1982: 1-Pound Package of Keebler Crackers
Keebler/itemmaster.com

Technology was ascendant in 1982: “The Computer” is named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. You could also get a 1-pound package of Keebler crackers for a buck.

1983: A Pound of Duck

1983: A Pound of Duck
istockphoto.com

Nerds candy made a scene in 1983. If you stopped to get dinner, you could take home a pound of duck for just 99 cents.

1984: Four Cans of Hanover Baked Beans

1984: Four Cans of Hanover Baked Beans
istockphoto.com

If you were hungry, you could grab four 14.5-ounce cans of Hanover baked beans for 99 cents in 1984. The famous “Where’s the Beef?” Wendy’s ad campaign came out this year.

1985: 5-Pound Bag of Potatoes

1985: 5-Pound Bag of Potatoes
istockphoto.com

If you took a road trip, the iconic Route 66 would be gone because it was removed from the highway system during 1985. However, you could still grab a 5-pound bag of potatoes for 99 cents, enough to make enough french fries for a party.


 

1986: 13-Ounce Container of Master Blend Coffee

1986: 13-Ounce Container of Master Blend Coffee
Maxwell House/itemmaster

Airheads and push-ups were the snacks to have, but if you were a coffee fiend, a 13-ounce container of Master Blend Coffee was just a buck.

1987: Kids Fiesta Meal at Taco Bell

1987: Kids Fiesta Meal at Taco Bell
lawcain/istockphoto.com

While the Fox Television network was being founded, kids could get a Kids Fiesta Meal at Taco Bell for only 99 cents.

1988: Three Cans of Van Camp’s Pork & Beans

1988: Three Cans of Van Camp’s Pork & Beans
Van Camp/itemmaster

Due to the stock market plummeting in 1987, pot pies, chili, and other comfort foods appealed to many, which is why three 1-pound cans of Van Camp’s Pork & Beans were so popular and were only sold for a dollar.

 

1989: Box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Cereal

1989: Box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Cereal
istockphoto.com

Kids broke their teeth on jawbreakers, which is why a 12-ounce box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Cereal was a good idea in 1989. It only cost 99 cents.

1990: A Dozen Eggs

1990: A Dozen Eggs
istockphoto.com

A dozen eggs were just buck in 1990, the same year that “Home Alone” debuted in theaters.

1991: Three Kiwi Fruits

1991: Three Kiwi Fruits
istockphoto.com

Kentucky Fried Chicken officially changed its name to KFC this year. You could also choose a healthy option and get three kiwis at the market for 99 cents.

 

1992: A Pound of Red Delicious Apples

1992: A Pound of Red Delicious Apples
istockphoto.com

McDonald’s definitively became a worldwide brand when the chain’s largest location opened in Beijing. A pound of Red Delicious apples was available for 99 cents.

 

1993: Wendy’s 99-Cent Super Value Menu

1993: Wendy’s 99-Cent Super Value Menu
RiverNorthPhotography/istockphoto.com

For just 99 cents, you could get a junior bacon cheeseburger, baked potato, soft drink, or Frosty by ordering off the Wendy’s 99-Cent Super Value Menu. It was a big year for women too: They are allowed to wear pantsuits on the U.S. Senate floor.

 

1994: A Pound of Armour Hot Dogs

1994: A Pound of Armour Hot Dogs
Amazon

You could get a pound of Armour Hot Dogs for 99 cents at the grocery store — or, for the first time, you could order a pizza online from Pizza Hut for quite a bit more.

 

1995: Pound of Farmland Bacon

1995: Pound of Farmland Bacon
istockphoto.com

People said goodbye to tan M&M’s, but you could still get a pound of Farmland bacon for 99 cents.

 

1996: Six Cans of Coca-Cola

1996: Six Cans of Coca-Cola
DNY59/istockphoto.com

Bill Clinton was elected for a second term this year, and six 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola were being sold for 99 cents.

 

1997: A 10-Ounce Package of Fresh Mushrooms

1997: A 10-Ounce Package of Fresh Mushrooms
istockphoto.com

A fresh 10-ounce package of mushrooms went for just 99 cents in 1997.

1998: A Pound of Fresh Eggplant

1998: A Pound of Fresh Eggplant
istockphoto.com

To get a pound of fresh eggplant it would only cost you 99 cents.

 

1999: 10 Ears of Yellow or White Corn

1999: 10 Ears of Yellow or White Corn
istockphoto.com

Technology kept changing the country, as MySpace and Bluetooth were both introduced. You could get 10 ears of yellow or white corn for your barbecue for just 99 cents.

 

2000: Three Boxes of Ronzoni Macaroni

2000: Three Boxes of Ronzoni Macaroni
istockphoto.com