The Price of Bacon the Year You Were Born

Fried Bacon in a white plate

What was the price of bacon when you were born? | iStock.com

They say many things get better with time. When it comes to our groceries, most things also get more expensive. The days of our grandparents buying handfuls of candy for a nickel are gone, as are the memories of purchasing a gallon of gas for less than a dollar.

However, those rising sticker prices have more to do with inflation than with it actually getting more expensive to buy a gallon of milk or a sack of flour. Think about those cards and booklets that give you the prices of everything that was sold during the year you were born. It all sounds so much cheaper, but only because we’re viewing those prices through the lens of our current incomes.

Keep in mind, your grandfather wasn’t earning the same salary you are. Even today’s national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would have been unheard of, considering the base pay in 1940 was just 30 cents an hour. In fact, that 30 cents adjusted for inflation in 2016 dollars is the equivalent of $5.18 — meaning the current minimum is still far above than the standard all those decades ago.

We were curious about how the prices of certain items have changed over the years — both in how much they actually cost, and how much that would translate into 2016 dollars with inflation taken into account. In particular, we wanted to know how much bacon, everyone’s favorite cured meat, has changed in price.

Luckily MooseRoots, part of the data visualization Graphiq network, provides the answers. MooseRoots used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Price Index to determine how much a pound of sliced bacon cost, all the way back to 1940. Want to see how much you’d have to spend for a full plate of bacon the year you were born? Take a look.

1940-1943

women add pig scraps for bacon in England

1940: Two women put their food scraps in a bin, aiding a scheme set up in Cheltenham, England, where bins were distributed around the town for people to get rid of their leftovers. This provided 20 tons of pig food weekly. | Fox Photos/Getty Images

  • 1940: $0.23 (actual cost) | $3.91 (adjusted 2016 dollars)
  • 1941: $0.29 | $4.90
  • 1942: $0.34 | $5.47
  • 1943: $0.35 | $5.07

Even when adjusted for inflation, it’s clear that bacon wasn’t always as expensive as it is today. The adjusted cost of a pound of bacon at the height of World War II was a few dollars less than what it is today, despite crunched budgets for the war efforts.

1944-1947

bacon rations during WWII

Circa 1940: A housewife at the bacon counter of a London provision store, waiting for her bacon coupons to be clipped from the ration books. | Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

  • 1944: $0.33 | $4.51
  • 1945: $0.34 | $4.58
  • 1946: $0.44 | $5.79
  • 1947: $0.64 | $7.76

War is always inflationary on the costs of goods and services after the battles are over, Gold Eagle explains. That is likely at least part of the reason for the sharp increase in the cost of bacon during these years, at the end of and directly following World War II. In fact, 1947’s price for bacon is the highest in history, when adjusted for inflation.

1948-1951

A butcher slicing bacon

A grocer operates a bacon slicing machine | London Express/Getty Images

  • 1948: $0.63 | $6.68
  • 1949: $0.55 | $5.41
  • 1950: $0.52 | $5.17
  • 1951: $0.55 | $5.41

The price of bacon was still relatively high in 1948, but continued to fall for the next several years — a trend that would continue for more than a decade.

1952-1955

bacon and eggs in iron skillet

Bacon and eggs in iron skillet | iStock.com/rez-art

  • 1952: $0.53 | $4.83
  • 1953: $0.65 | $5.80
  • 1954: $0.67 | $5.93
  • 1955: $0.54 | $4.76

At this point we’re in the heart of the baby boomer generation’s start, with eggs and bacon on the table for breakfast. Bacon prices begin to level out, at least for a few years.

1956-1959

dried pork meat

Bacon | iStock.com/haveseen

  • 1956: $0.48 | $4.24
  • 1957: $0.62 | $5.40
  • 1958: $0.66 | $5.56
  • 1959: $0.55 | $4.51

Bacon prices continue to remain level in the late 1950s, without much fluctuation. Prices were relatively stabilized, the economy was booming, and Americans were enjoying more purchasing power than they had in years prior. We also start to see a growth in suburban life during this phase of history.

1960-1963

Crispy strips of bacon

Plate of bacon | iStock.com/5second

  • 1960: $0.54 | $4.39
  • 1961: $0.59 | $4.72
  • 1962: $0.58 | $4.59
  • 1963: $0.57 | $4.46

The dawn of the 1960s was touted to be a golden era for the United States, with the election of John F. Kennedy in 1961. Though hindsight tells us that golden age went awry before the decade was over, it did mark several years of lowest prices for bacon. The first four years of the decade showed prices that were particularly low, even for today’s standards.

1964-1967

bacon pieces in a cast iron skillet

Bacon slices in a cast iron skillet | iStock.com/VeselovaElena

  • 1964: $0.57 | $4.41
  • 1965: $0.69 | $5.27
  • 1966: $0.82 | $6.16
  • 1967: $0.72 | $5.25

After a price lag in the earliest part of the decade, bacon prices are on the upswing by the late 1960s.

1968-1971

bacon wrapped pork on a serving platter surrounded by apples

Bacon-wrapped pork loin with apples | iStock.com

  • 1968: $0.70 | $4.97
  • 1969: $0.76 | $5.17
  • 1970: $0.82 | $5.29
  • 1971: $0.69 | $4.21

Though the inflation-adjusted prices help us to see what the bacon cost in relative wallet terms, it’s also fairly astounding to think that a pound of the cured meat continued to cost less than a dollar by the beginning of the 1970s. However, this is the last grouping of years where that’s the case across the board. Bacon prices begin to climb in a major way in the following years.

1972-1975

fried bacon

Fried bacon | iStock.com

  • 1972: $0.84 | $4.91
  • 1973: $1.16 | $6.57
  • 1974: $1.15 | $6.13
  • 1975: $1.55 | $7.44

Once again, inflation is largely to blame for this bump in bacon prices. Bacon in 1975, when adjusted for inflation, cost the most it had since the record in 1947, and remains the at the highest point even compared to today’s prices.

1976-1979

frying bacon

Frying bacon | iStock.com

  • 1976: $1.51 | $6.64
  • 1977: $1.38 | $5.74
  • 1978: $1.59 | $6.21
  • 1979: $1.48 | $5.37

What goes up, must come down. What’s true in nature is also true in the cost of bacon, apparently. Bacon prices continued to fluctuate in the late 1970s as the economy begins to settle a bit, but do start to come down once again.

1980-1983

One of the fattiest meats out there, bacon loses popularity in the 1980s | iStock.com

One of the fattiest meats out there, bacon loses popularity in the 1980s | iStock.com

  • 1980: $1.43 | $4.66
  • 1981: $1.62 | $4.65
  • 1982: $1.99 | $5.18
  • 1983: $1.95 | $4.78

The 1980s were the beginning of a health-conscious era, when home cooks began choosing skinless, boneless chicken instead of other fattier cuts of meat at the grocery store. We’ll start to see demand for bacon and other pork belly products decline, starting right at the beginning of the decade.

1984-1987

bacon strips

Strips of bacon | iStock.com

  • 1984: $1.91 | $4.54
  • 1985: $1.98 | $4.51
  • 1986: $2.12 | $4.67
  • 1987: $2.23 | $4.82

You’ll notice that the actual price of bacon continues to rise during this period, crossing over the $2 per pound threshold. However, we start to see inflation have less of an effect when we look at the adjusted costs, since the 2016 dollar amounts start to decline from the period before.

1988-1991

bacon on a cutting board

Bacon is still on the chopping block in the late 1980s | iStock.com

  • 1988: $1.97 | $4.10
  • 1989: $1.87 | $3.74
  • 1990: $2.21 | $4.22
  • 1991: $2.34 | $4.24

In 1989, pork bellies were selling for just 30 cents a pound, Bloomberg reports, a drastic decline from years prior and a far ways off from the $1 or so a pound they would command 15 years later. Demand for bacon and similar products were way down compared to decades past.

1992-1995

  • 1992: $2.04 | $3.55
  • 1993: $2.16 | $3.64
  • 1994: $2.30 | $3.77
  • 1995: $2.34 | $3.74

Poor, unpopular bacon. We would say the early 1990s would have been the time to start a bacon festival, since the cost of providing all of it would have been so cheap. In fact, when adjusted for inflation, 1992 marked the cheapest bacon on record in the entire span from 1940 until today. The problem is, no one would have attended. However, it’s also the year when Bloomberg says that trend began to turn around. Hardee’s, which controlled a much bigger portion of the fast food sector than it does today, began putting slices of bacon on its Frisco Burger — a trend that caught fire and now is almost ubiquitous in any fast food joint in the nation.

“That’s the first time a chain ever put bacon on everything. It was tremendously successful,” Larry Cizek, the retired head of food service marketing at the National Pork Board, told Bloomberg. “People would buy it, regardless of health cares. It just went.”

1996-1999

butcher slicing bacon

Modern-day butcher slicing bacon | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • 1996: $2.90 | $4.51
  • 1997: $3.20 | $4.83
  • 1998: $2.96 | $4.37
  • 1999: $2.95 | $4.28

By the end of the 1990s, bacon had returned in a big way. In fact, the price has been on the upswing ever since, aside from a random year or two tossed in the mix.

2000-2003

Bacon burger with beef patty

Bacon burger are here to stay | iStock.com/Arijuhani

  • 2000: $3.46 | $4.92
  • 2001: $3.60 | $4.95
  • 2002: $3.63 | $4.85
  • 2003: $3.83 | $5.04

Up until the point when Hardee’s put bacon on a burger, cooking with the cured meat was mostly reserved for home cooks, not retail food establishments. The trend still didn’t catch on for several years, until chains like McDonald’s began offering items like the Bacon Double Cheeseburger. What’s more, restaurant portions began to get bigger, and indulgence was once again a selling point for customers.

“Fast-food chains saw they could offer a number of different sandwiches with not only bacon as a topper, but all kinds of other things. Around 2000 is when bacon became the third condiment behind salt and pepper,” Paul Perfilio, the Pork Board’s national marketing manager, told Bloomberg.

2004-2007

raw Bacon stripes on wooden background

Strips of bacon | iStock.com/HandmadePictures

  • 2004: $4.13 | $5.31
  • 2005: $4.09 | $5.13
  • 2006: $4.15 | $5.03
  • 2007: $4.31 | $5.06

The year 2006 was when Bloomberg reported the price of pork belly was back up to almost $1 per pound, quite the recovery from the late ’80s. This is also the point in the past 30 years where the price of bacon stays over $5 per pound, at least when adjusted for inflation. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in the midst of America’s collective obsession with bacon, adding it not just to breakfast dishes but also donuts, liquor, and sold on its own at county fairs.

2008-2011

bacon for sale

Bacon for sale | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • 2008: $4.28 | $4.89
  • 2009: $4.21 | $4.63
  • 2010: $4.53 | $5.00
  • 2011: $5.14 | $5.58

A slight dip in bacon prices from 2008-2009 could be blamed on the Great Recession, but is also likely due to the growing price of corn. It was expensive for farmers to keep excess pigs around, so many of them sent them to the butcher — effectively creating a surplus of pork products. Demand was still high for bacon, but so was the supply. As a result, prices declined slightly.

2012-2015

Bacon Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese

Bacon-wrapped dates with goat cheese | iStock.com/bhofack2

  • 2012: $5.22 | $5.49
  • 2013: $5.53 | $5.70
  • 2014: $5.84 | $5.93
  • 2015: $5.48 | $5.48

By this time in recent history, bacon’s all the rage, all the time. The surplus faded and prices have risen as a result. Though they’re not the highest in history, they are certainly the most consistently-priced years of expensive bacon.

Present day

beer and bacon festival in New York City

What’s better than a beer and bacon festival? | NYC Bacon and Beer Classic 2017 via Facebook

  • 2016: $5.49 | $5.49

Bacon prices haven’t risen dramatically from 2015 and recent years, but there are indications the price will continue to rise — at least as long as we keep going to bacon festivals and sprinkling bacon bits on top of every dish we consume. Some people predict our recent love affair with the salty, crispy strips will eventually fade, but prices have remained fairly level this year. Apparently, bacon’s not on the way down (or out) just yet.

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