The Oreo Centennial

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Dec 28, 2011    •    1006 Views

Next year, we can celebrate Oreo’s 100th birthday.

First sold in 1912, Oreos have been priced at:

  • 1922: 32 cents/lb.
  • 1934: 27 cents/lb.
  • 1960: 45 cents/lb.
  • 1991: $2.39/lb.
  • 2008: $4.29/18oz.
  • 2011: $4.29/16.6oz.

Amazingly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, 32 cents in 1922 equals $4.31 today.

When Oreo celebrated its 75th anniversary, people liked to say that so many billions were produced that you could stack them to the moon and back 4 times. Humorist Calvin Trillin said it was impossible, though, because, “Those Oreos are eaten up.”

And here, award winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger reviews the Oreo’s design.

The Economic Lesson

The first federally mandated minimum wage, in 1938, was 25 cents an hour.  Looking at the 1934 price of Oreos, you can see that 1 hour of work at minimum wage got you close to 1 pound of Oreos. Now a pound of Oreo cookies is approximately $4.29 and the federal minimum wage is $7.25.

Greater productivity and economic growth enable us to expand our purchasing power.

An economic question: You might want to check historic prices of other items and then go to the BLS inflation calculator to see if the Oreo numbers are typical.

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