A Glimpse Into the Past: Prices Have Changed Over the Years

A Glimpse Into the Past: Prices Have Changed Over the Years

"Training School - Potato Club - Oct. 12, 1916," photo courtesy of American Heritage Center and the University of Wyoming.

Now that we are halfway through our first month of 2020, we couldn’t help but take time to see just how much of a change there has been in common grocery items most residents purchase.

Of course, prices will have changed over the last 100 plus years, but by how much is always interesting to see.

Even though diets, fads, and society has changed quite a bit in the last 100 years, there are still items consumers purchase all the time. These common items are purchased weekly or monthly, but shoppers may not necessarily pay attention to how much these items cost. Some of the most popular items over the years, include potatoes, rice, bread and milk.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics article written in 2014, “One hundred years of price change: the Consumer Price Index and the American inflation experience,” prices in the 1920s were relatively stable for most of the 1920s.

The Consumer Price Index numbers started at 1913 for this particular article. The CPI also looked at costs in 1987 in this same article.

Prices of selected items, 1913:

  • Potatoes, 2.5 cents/pound
  • Flour, 3.3 cents/pound
  • Rice, 8.7 cents/pound
  • White bread, 5.6 cents/pound
  • Round steak, 22.3 cents/pound

Prices of selected items, 1987:

  • Gasoline, 97.0 cents/gallon
  • Potatoes, 24.7 cents/pound
  • Rice 42.2 cents/pound
  • White bread 57.1 cents/pound
  • Round steak $2.93 /pound
  • Milk, $1.09/half gallon

The most recent data was obtained through U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Average Retail Food and Energy Prices, U.S. and Midwest Region for December 2019 report.

Prices of Selected items, December 2019:

  • Gasoline, $2.47 /gallon (unleaded regular)
  • Potatoes, 78 cents/pound
  • Rice 71 cents/pound
  • White bread $1.36 cents/pound
  • Round steak $5.98 /pound
  • Milk, $3.19/per gallon