I recently completed a book that was written in 1937. There were some funny passages that had no intention to be humorous, they were so because because so much has changed since publication. For instance, how bald men are so because they wear hats that are to tight and they cut off the circulation to the follicles in the head. That may have been sound in the 1930's even though we are now pointing fingers at the EDA2R gene.
Well there was one short passage about food and I thought it was so profound because of how much has NOT changed. 1937 was the year that SPAM was introduced and Krispy Kreme was founded, but putting those aside. in the book, there was a break-down of a breakfast in New York City, where the food was shipped from, and how much it cost. It is as follows:
"A family of two living in the heart of the Times Square district... far removed from the source of the production of foods...
Grapefruit juice from Florida, 2 cents. Rippled wheat breakfast food from Kansas, 2 cents. Tea from China, 2 cents. Bananas from South America, 2 and a half cents. Toasted bread from a Kansas farm, 1 cent. Fresh country eggs from Utah, 7 cents. Sugar from Cuba or Utah, one half cent. Butter and cream from New England, 3 cents.
Grand total 20 cents. It is not very difficult to obtain food in a country where two people could obtain all they want or need for a dime a piece.
Observe that this simple breakfast was gathered by some strange form of magic from China, South America, Utah, Kansas, and the New England states and delivered on the breakfast table ready for consumption in the very heart of the most crowded city in America at a cost well within the means of the most humble laborer. The cost included all Federal, State, and Local taxes."
What is more a testimony to the industrial food shipping and distribution system and their "strange form of magic" was not the spread at breakfast available for New Yorkers in 1937 - but the existence of New York City in the first place. The population then was more than 80% of what it is today.
Here are some other food prices from 1937 via The People's History:
- Campbells Tomato Soup - 4 cans for 25 cents Indiana 1937
- Oranges - 2 dozen 25 cents Indiana 1937
- Kellogs Corn Flakes - 3 Pkgs 25 cents Indiana 1937
- Mixed Nuts - 19 Cents per pound Indiana 1937
- Pork Loin Roast - 15 cents per pound Indiana 1937
Other notable events that year included: Amelia Earhart disappearing, the Hindenberg burst into flames, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, The Hobbit was published by J. R. R. Tolkien, and Of Mice and Men is published by Steinbeck.