Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Inflationary Hot Dog Story

                                                                The Inflationary Hot Dog Story
                                                     Written 8/2015 and rewritten 02/2016 unedited
                                                                              Howard Yasgar

       Inflation is an interesting thing to watch, most people don’t even realize that it is happening.
       I think that everyone realizes that houses and cars now cost more than they used to. But no one seems to notice the small price changes that are happening all around us every day. They are the things that are bound to happen as companies try to keep making the same amount of profit but giving customers less product, but also making you think you are getting what you are used to be getting.  
       Take a look at any frozen food that we used to take for granted were in a 1 pound package, you may be surprised to find that many are now only 14 ounces.
       I assume that everyone notices that the cans of soup are getting smaller, but the prices are the same or even increasing. You would think most people would stop buying them, but, it appears most people don’t seem to mind it
       I must admit, that it bothered me, it bothered me so much that I boycotted the small cans of soup and bought only the normal size ones. That was until I opened a large can of tomato soup only to find it was tomato flavored water, and not really soup. Rather than downsize the manufacturer cheapened the product.
      I was also keeping watch on the containers of yogurt, they all seemed to be shrinking in size right before my very eyes, I have no doubt that pretty soon the containers will have only one tablespoon of yogurt in in the cup, but it won’t stop the manufacturers from raising the prices, that’s called inflation.
     What made me think about the problem of inflation, was hotdogs.
     When I was younger hotdogs were on every restaurant’s menu, just like grilled cheese sandwiches,
Then sometimes in the 1970’s, all of a sudden hotdogs just seemed to disappear off restaurant menus, and for about the next 25 to 40 years you could hardly find one on a restaurant menu.  I assumed there was a good reason for this, I think it was inflation. Because of the higher cost of doing because, no one could afford to sell such a cheap item like the hotdog. Restaurants needed to sell things that make a profit and selling hotdogs just wasn’t profitable.
       Please don’t misunderstand me, you could always find hotdogs in the supermarket and make them at home, but they never tasted the same.  When I looked, I just couldn’t find hot dogs in most restaurants. After all how much money can you make on a hot dog. Even if a restaurant charged $2.00 for a hotdog and they made $1.50 profit, what can you do with $1.50 profit, and making that $1.50 didn’t include the restaurants cost of mustard and ketchup, Chopped onions, and washing the stained tablecloth.
      Now I wondered, what made me ever think about writing about a hotdog in the first place, well it was because the other day I did see one on a restaurant menu for $5.95, and I just read in January of 2016, that Burger King was putting them on the menu for $5.95 each.   
      I remembered back in 1950 when I was eleven years old, my father took me to a local White Castle restaurant, it was located on Crown Street in Down town New Haven Connecticut. I always remember that restaurant because the local street people always went there for a cup of bean soup.
      Well the evening my father took me there, there were several local homeless people sitting at the counter with their cup of soup. My dad found us seats at the end of the counter and he ordered us two of the most delicious hot dogs I had ever tasted. They were boiled New Haven hotdogs on a steamed bun with chili sauce poured over it, and mustard and chopped white onions on top. (I understand that you can still buy them in Detroit). We sat at that White Castle counter, savoring our dogs with the beef chili sauce running down our chins.
       That was until the waiter brought the handwritten bill to my father. I could see the expression on his face change as he studied it. Then he said, “30 cents, how the hell do they get the nerve to charge me .30 cents apiece for a hot dog.  He turned around in his seat and pointed out the front plate glass window and said, “Do you see that street corner over there, well when I was your age, I sold newspapers right there, on that very corner, and I came here every night for a hotdog, and the hotdog only cost me  5 cents each.
      Well if my dad were still around, and he was upset with the hotdog price of .30 cents back in 1950, I would tell him that was inflation even back then.
      What would my dad say now if he saw a hotdog at $5.95?     



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