16 Comments

  1. The trend among food vendors is to figure out how to make food more cheaply, as well as to charge higher prices. Sometimes you only notice one change, but other times you notice both at the same time.

    Our protagonist is disappointed that they’re out of his favorite foodstuff, so naturally he claims that he’s a victim of both practices. The contrast of “cheaper” and “higher priced” is a sort of oxymoron, but that doesn’t make him any less bitter.

  2. J-L, are you familiar with the expression “Cheap at twice the price”? It has always felt a little off. The traditional meaning is that it would be “a good buy” even if it were priced twice as high as what is currently posted. But it very readily has a somewhat opposite meaning, and in line with what you describe for the $0.50 burgers — it is still low-quality (that sense of cheap) even though the price has gone up.

  3. J-L, are you familiar with the expression “Cheap at twice the price”?

    No, but it makes sense with your explanation.

    As for the comic, I was also thinking that maybe the 65¢ hamburger really is the better hamburger. However, our hero doesn’t want to shell out the 50 extra cents, so he disparages it by calling it a “cheap imitation” — when in fact, he’s the one who’s being cheap.

  4. There is also the contrary way of putting it, “Cheap at half the price.” I think this is meant to have the same meaning as the “twice” version. But also could be a way of announcing “We’ve really cut prices! Many items at 50% off – cheap at half the price”

  5. I remember local “fifteen cent hamburger” places back around 1964, but 1969 would seem a little late for that to be the price (unless they were White Castles, maybe — I think they were still twelve cents in the mid-1960s).

  6. My then-gf & I enjoyed many White Castle burgers in the late 1950s in NYCity. I think they were 25cents apiece, but I could be wrong. Small, too.

  7. I’m not so sure about 1969, but in 1967 you could still buy a none-too-substantial hamburger for 15 cents at Burger Chef.

    http://jsf1.homestead.com/BurgerChefAudio.html

    I remember the BK radio spot a bit differently from this one. The one stuck in my ear pitches “A nickel and a dime will get french fried potatoes, thick, thick shakes, or the greatest, tastiest hamburger yet.”

    Maybe by 1967 the milkshake price had crept up. But in the early- to mid-1960s, you could visit just about any of the chain burger restaurants and walk out with a serviceable meal, dessert included, for 45 cents.

  8. I know around 1969-70ish, burgers at The Red Barn in Toronto were 15c. We used to go to one near Keele and Lawrence. 45c for a meal: butgers, fries, and a pop. For some reason, hot dogs were more expensive at 20c.

  9. I worked at a McDonalds when the quarterpounders were introduced. This would have been sometime in 70 or 71. A regular burger was 30c, with cheese 39. The quarterpounder was 65c, with cheese 69. It was a horrible place to work.

  10. When I was a kid, we lived in Stillwater OK in 60s. There was a burger place called Griff’s, that had 15c burgers, except on like Tuesday when they were 10c. Sometimes my dad would stand in line to get us some. This is a college town, so you can imagine the interest in the cheap burgers.

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