A (Temporary) Whopper of a Price Drop From Burger King

Burger King tells us that its cofounder, Jim McLamore wanted customers to know he had created a very big burger so he named it the Whopper. Now, 64 years later, Burger King lowered the price of the Whopper to 37 cents during its “two day birthday bash.” Last Friday and Saturday, if you were a part of the chain’s Royal Perks reward program, you could have paid $3.82 less for your burger.

So yes, the difference in all of our grocery prices was a whopper since 1957. But, if you look at our purchasing power, the story changes considerably.

Grocery Prices

HowStuffWorks tells us that in 1957, we paid around $20,000 for our house, $2,500 for a Ford, and 27 cents for a gallon of gasoline.

In 1957, milk would have cost us close to $1 a gallon and ground beef, 30 cents a pound. Also seemingly inexpensive, butter was 75 cents a pound and a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup was a dime. Meanwhile eggs were 55 cents a dozen, iceberg lettuce, 19 cents a head, and a bunch of broccoli, 23 cents.

While HowStuffWorks told us the correct prices, they were less accurate when they said the items were much cheaper. It is a bit more complicated.

Our Bottom Line: Purchasing Power

As economists, we should look at more than a price change when comparing different years. More importantly, we have to consider inflation and our purchasing power. We can start with plugging in $1.00 for October 1957 at the BLS Inflation Calculator and see that $9.77 had the equivalent buying power in October 2021.

As a result, that dollar for a gallon milk should have been close to $10 today. Instead, it averages $3.59. Similarly, according to the BLS, eggs average $1.82 a dozen and FRED says a pound of butter is $3.65. Both of these 2021 prices are far less than their equivalent in 1957. Meanwhile, Campbell’s Tomato Soup and ground beef are almost the same.

Next, we can see that average wages in 1957 were in the 2 dollar range for selected industries. As a result, we needed close to a half hour of work for a gallon of milk or one quarter of an hour for a pound of butter:

Now, with an average wage close to 30 dollars, we just have to work 7 or 8 minutes for a gallon of milk, slightly less for a pound of butter, and 3 or 4 minutes for our dozen eggs:

However, returning to where we began, the Whopper is actually more expensive. Because that 37 cents is the same as $3.62 today, the Whopper’s $4.19 price tag is more (Fast Food Menu prices).

My sources and more: Fast Company had one of the many articles about the Burger King Whopper birthday celebration. Then, HowStuffWorks had the 1957 grocery price list,

Our featured image is from Burger King via Fast Company.

Originally published at https://econlife.com on December 6, 2021.




Located at the intersection of current events, history, and economics, econlife® slices away all of the layers that make economics boring and complex.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

How Predatory Capitalism Ate America From the Inside Out

Urbanexus Update — Issue #16

Housing share 1024x768

What Economists Say On Valentine’s Day

The Final Frontier Left for African Americans

US Inflation Spiked 8.6%,

US Inflation Spiked 8.6%, Highest in 40-Years — Economist Says We’re Not ‘Seeing Any Signs That We’re in the Clear’

Goat to Meeting


What does Ofgem’s Targeted Charging Review mean for flexibility?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Econlife Team

Econlife Team

Located at the intersection of current events, history, and economics, econlife® slices away all of the layers that make economics boring and complex.

More from Medium

What no one told me about being a Manager

Which income is exempt from tax and which tax is levied on income from stock market?

Are Real Estate Syndications Too Good To Be True?

Is there no hope for the future?