The Price of Bacon the Year You Were Born
It's safe to say America is obsessed with bacon. We've long enjoyed delicious strips of bacon with our eggs and on our burgers, but now we're finding increasingly creative ways to eat more bacon -- from desserts to cocktails. And while it seems like the price of bacon seems to increase with our demand, you may be surprised to learn that the cost of a pound of sliced bacon hasn't changed dramatically since 1940 when you adjust for inflation. To find out why -- and how much bacon cost the year you were born -- read on.
Cost of Bacon: $0.23
Inflation-Adjusted Cost (in 2018 Dollars): $4.09
Having made it through the Great Depression when goods like bacon were a luxury for many, Americans enjoyed a period of relatively low prices for the good stuff. But in the midst of World War II, the country's resources -- including meat -- were redirected toward the war effort, and those prices began to rise.
Cost of Bacon: $0.34
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.19
The U.S. entry into World War II may have helped employ millions of Americans following the Depression, but that also meant that more people were able to afford bacon -- and more of it -- than before. Combined with the demands for food reserves for servicemen heading to the front lines, the price of bacon spiked.
Cost of Bacon: $0.35
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.08
To help counteract the rising prices of bacon and other goods during the war, the U.S. government instituted a complex rationing program. And while it likely helped reduce bacon prices in the years to come, it meant shoppers often had to use stamps or points to purchase things like bacon and constantly monitor changing prices. It also meant that bacon was sometimes unavailable at the local market, and led to a black market of point trading and selling for some.
Cost of Bacon: $0.33
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.67
While the price of bacon steadily declined during the war, those at home were encouraged to save their bacon grease for the war effort. The fat was converted into glycerin, which was used to make certain bombs. Only about half of Americans donated to the effort, however, as cooking fats and oils were in short supply, and Americans had long utilized bacon grease in the kitchen and were reluctant to give it up.
Cost of Bacon: $0.64
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $7.15
The costs of goods and services often rise following a war, and bacon prices were no exception. When adjusted for inflation, bacon reached one of the highest prices in recent history, likely leading some bacon lovers to do without for a while.
Cost of Bacon: $0.53
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.98
As Americans settled back into business as usual following the war years, the cost of bacon also steadily declined and reached lows not seen in years. Bacon and eggs once again made regular appearances on breakfast tables around the country.
Cost of Bacon: $0.48
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.39
Despite a few spikes in the early '50s, the young Baby Boomer generation enjoyed plenty of bacon purchased at reasonable prices through the middle of the decade. It was also a time when bacon and cheese balls and items wrapped in bacon became increasingly popular at cocktail parties -- more bacon for everyone.
Cost of Bacon: $0.55
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.71
By the end of the 1950s, the economy was booming, and Americans enjoyed low prices on one of their favorite breakfast items. As more people started moving to the suburbs and fast food companies began to spread across the country, Americans were enjoying more bacon on the go and at home.
Cost of Bacon: $0.57
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.64
The cost of bacon remained low during the early 1960s, which likely accounts for the rising trend of recipes calling for bacon and big brands suggested bacon-fueled recipes like Aunt Jemima's bacon strip pancakes. This was also the year that Dale Mulder, president of A&W restaurants, is credited with inventing the bacon cheeseburger, paving the way for great things to come. Thanks, Dale.
Cost of Bacon: $0.82
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $6.30
Bacon prices steadily rose to a peak in the late 1960s before declining again. With so many people tuning into Julia Child's "The French Chef" on TV at the time, perhaps demand and prices went up as everyone tried to imitate her recipes that used bacon and plenty of butter.
Cost of Bacon: $0.84
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5
This was the last year that a pound of sliced bacon was less than a dollar -- not adjusting for inflation -- ah ... the good old days. It's also the year that the McDonald's unveiled the Egg McMuffin, likely leading to an increase in bacon popularity, demand, and price in the years to come.
Cost of Bacon: $1.55
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $7.17
Bacon prices hit a record high in 1975, numbers not seen since 1947. Inflation during the mid-1970s is likely to blame for the price spike, which also happened for oil and other goods. The price was high even by today's standards. These were tough times for bacon lovers.
Cost of Bacon: $1.59
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $6.07
Health concerns over the effects of sodium nitrite -- the salt used to preserve, flavor, and color meats like bacon -- rose after studies suggested it could be carcinogenic. The news surely had an impact on bacon sales, but prices wouldn't dip for another couple years.
Cost of Bacon: $1.43
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.32
As we entered the 1980s, slimming down with health-conscious diet fads, Tab, and Thighmasters were all the rage, which meant that indulgent treats like bacon were often shunned or substituted with lower fat options (remember Sizzlean?). As demand declined, so did the price of bacon. Good news for those who skipped the diets and stuck with bacon, though.
Cost of Bacon: $2.12
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.82
The mid-1980s saw bacon prices finally crest above the $2 mark, which likely accounted for some sticker shock at the supermarket for bacon fans. But did that stop us from buying it? No way.
Cost of Bacon: $2.23
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.89
The healthy, low-fat trends of the '80s were especially hard on the pork industry, so the Pork Marketing Board launched "The Other White Meat" ad campaign to encourage people to eat leaner cuts of meat. The campaign worked, but bacon -- still considered too fatty -- suffered with prices dropping dramatically. Meatpackers were even encouraged to sell stockpiled frozen pork bellies as food aid to impoverished countries.
Cost of Bacon: $1.87
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $3.75
The price of bacon hit a record low in 1989 -- good news for eaters, bad news for the industry. Pork producers urged the Pork Board marketers to lend a hand, encouraging restaurants to incorporate more bacon into their menus.
Cost of Bacon: $2.04
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $3.62
Just as bacon prices dipped low again, fast food giant Hardee's unveiled the Frisco Burger -- a line of San Francisco inspired sandwiches that all featured bacon. It's considered the first time a fast food company put bacon on everything. Not surprisingly, it was a hit. Other fast food companies followed Hardee's lead with more bacon options, but only for limited-time offers as cooking bacon on-site required costly cleaning and ventilation.
Cost of Bacon: $2.34
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $3.82
Great strides in precooked-bacon technology during the early '90s made it much easier for fast food companies to add bacon to their sandwiches. As a result, McDonald's launched the Bacon Double Cheeseburger and Quarter Pounder BLT, followed by Burger King's Whopper with bacon, and Wendy's Baconator. The trend set in motion bacon's rise in popularity and prices increased with demand.
Cost of Bacon: $3.46
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5
After a few years of lower prices, bacon returned to its steady rise as America's new favorite topping. At the same time kale and healthy smoothies became increasingly popular, which prompted a counter-trend of bacon-lovers looking to indulge with even more bacon.
Cost of Bacon: $3.63
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.02
Cookbook author Sara Perry releases "Everything Tastes Better With Bacon," in May 2002, and America agrees in a big way, seeming to take the title as a call to action. Despite the continued rising cost of bacon, we begin to see bacon everywhere -- from bacon ice cream to bacon-topped doughnuts.
Cost of Bacon: $4.09
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.21
While bacon was occasionally used by high-end restaurants -- maybe to wrap scallops -- bacon was mostly relegated to breakfast and fast food. That began to change in the mid-aughts when notable chefs like David Chang and Mario Batali began singing the praises of pork belly and bacon. No longer satisfied with just supermarket bacon, consumers began demanding -- and buying -- artisanal, thick-cut bacon from venerable producers like Niman Ranch and Nueske's.
Cost of Bacon: $4.21
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $4.89
While you might think the Great Recession contributed to a drop in bacon prices, it was most likely a result of the growing price of corn. Often following a period of drought, increases in the price of corn -- the primary source of feed for hogs -- farms often send more animals to slaughter to keep costs low. As a result, the market sees an abundance of pork products, including bacon, and prices drop.
Cost of Bacon: $5.14
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.69
The price of a pound of bacon jumps past the $5 mark, even without adjusting for inflation. And America's bacon obsession shows no sign of slowing.
Cost of Bacon: $5.22
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.66
Adjusting for inflation, the price of bacon dipped slightly from 2011 to 2012, a trend again attributed to the rising cost of corn and a glut of bacon on the market, as well as a general slowing of the inflation rate.
Cost of Bacon: $5.81
Inflation-Adjusted Cost: $5.58
As Americans love affair with bacon continues, the country’s 60,000 pig farmers struggle to keep up with demand. Even reserves of frozen pork belly are at a six-decade low, which in turn has led to another spike in the price of bacon as our demand grows.
Cost of Bacon: $4.87
Following a steady rise over the past two decades, bacon prices finally dropped to levels not seen in years -- much to the joy of bacon lovers everywhere. The drop is largely attributed to the hog industry’s fervent expansion over the past few years in an effort to keep up with consumer demand. Bacon prices also often drop slightly around spring as many people instead shop for ham for Easter. Hopefully, bacon prices will continue to stabilize for the coming years -- that is, assuming we don’t devise even crazier ways of eating more bacon.
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