Can you guess how much these everyday items used to cost?

By: Bambi Turner

Can you guess how much these everyday items used to cost?
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Thanks to the relentless march of inflation, prices of everything, from housing to a gallon of milk, continue to rise over time. People living in decades past had to pinch pennies and stretch dollars to afford necessities or splurge on a taste of luxury, just like modern families. Take our quiz to see if you can guess how much everyday items cost in days past!
How much was a typical home in the U.S. in 1940, as WWII dawned?
$312
$2,938
The median home value in the U.S. in 1940 was $2,938, but just like today, prices varied based on where you lived. In 2017, the median price of an existing U.S. home is $228,400.
$99,300

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How much did the average family make each year in 1900?
$35
$102
$490
At a time when 60 percent of the population still lived in rural areas, the median household income was $490 in 1900. In 2015, the median household income in the U.S. was just under $56,000.

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What did the first Model T cost when it came out in 1908?
$825
The Model T marked the beginning of the move from horse-powered carriage to car. The first units that rolled out of the factory cost $825 -- that's about $18,000 today. A new car in 2016 costs around $31,000.
$82,500
$182,500

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What did an annual subscription to a major newspaper cost in the mid-19th century?
$10
You could subscribe to a major newspaper in the 1860s for between $8 and $10 per year -- at a time when the average laborer made less than $1 a day. Today, a subscription to the "New York Times" with home delivery starts at around $10 a week.
$100
$1,000

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How much for a six-pack of brewskies in the '60s?
$0.05
$0.99
A six-pack of standard American beer cost around $0.99 in the 1960s. Today, a six-pack of Bud Light rings in at around $6 or $7 -- or double that for many craft beers.
$5.00

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Quick! The Declaration of Independence has just been signed and you want to make a celebratory cake. How much will a pound of butter cost as the Revolutionary War rages?
$0.13
Back in 1777, a pound of butter cost just $0.13. By the dawn of the Civil War in 1860, the price had risen to $0.29 per pound. Today, high-quality butter can easily cost $4 per pound.
$2.59
$9.00

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How much was a gallon of milk in 1965?
$0.95
A gallon of milk cost just $0.95 in the mid '60s. Today, a gallon will set you back around $3.32.
$4.00
$9.99

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How much would you need to buy a gallon of gas back in 1929 -- right at the start of the Great Depression?
$0.21
A gallon of gas cost $0.21 in 1929 -- that's around $2.38 in today's dollars. Gas hit its peak in 2008, at $4.11 per gallon.
$1.00
$13.81

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What did a year of public college tuition, room and board cost in 1980?
$115
$2,551
One year of tuition, room and board for an in-state student at a public college cost $2,551 in 1980 -- or $8,307 adjusted for inflation. The same year of tuition, room and board costs an average of $20,092 per year in 2016.
$14,091

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What did a Big Mac cost when it was first sold, in 1968?
$0.07
$0.49
The Big Mac is a popular item for comparing prices and purchasing power. When the McDonald's classic first came out in 1968, it was priced at $0.49. By 2015, it cost $4.79. The restaurant's cheeseburger fared a little better -- starting at $0.19 in 1955 and priced at $1 in 2015.
$1.79

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How much would it cost to see "The Wizard of Oz" on the big screen in 1939?
$0.25
The average movie ticket cost just a quarter in 1939, arguably one of the biggest years in film history -- "Gone With the Wind," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Stagecoach" and "Oz" all came out that year. Today, the average movie ticket costs $8.73.
$1.50
$5.25

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How much did it cost to get in the gate at Disneyland on opening day in 1955?
$1
Opening day admission at Disneyland cost just $1, but rides were extra, and ranged from around $0.10 to $0.30. Today, rides are included in the price of a ticket, but daily admission starts at a whopping $91 during off-peak times.
$20
$50

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What did the Apple II PC cost when it was released in the late '70s?
$27
$110
$1,298
The Apple II, which included a display and was one of the first complete PC's on the market, was priced at $1,298 when it was released. Today, a new Macbook costs less and offers features early computer users could only dream of -- in a notebook that's wafer thin and unbelievably light.

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The '50s were considered a period when the American Dream was within reach and affordable for all. How much did the average home cost in 1950?
$625
$7,354
The median price for a standard home in 1950 cost $7,354 -- that's $44,600 in today's dollars -- and measured less than 1,000 square feet. Today, the average new home measures more than 2,500 square feet, and median home value is around $232,500.
$21,087

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What did a loaf of bread cost in the early '30s?
$0.05
As the Great Depression reared its ugly head, families had to dig deep to shell out the $0.05 to $0.10 needed to buy a loaf of bread. Today, bread averages around $2.40, or slightly more for whole wheat.
$0.50
$1.95

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How much did a postage stamp cost a century ago?
$0.02
You could mail a letter first-class in the U.S. for a mere $0.02 in 1915. In 2017, the same stamp costs just $0.49 -- although it's much less necessary to everyday life, thanks to email.
$0.17
$0.29

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How much did a Hershey bar cost in 1968?
$0.05
Hershey kept the price of its iconic candy bar at just a nickel from 1900 to 1969, when it doubled the price of a bar while also doubling the size.
$0.99
$2.50

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How much was a bottle of Coca-Cola in 1900?
$0.05
A bottle of Coke cost just a nickel for nearly 70 years -- from 1886 to 1930. When the company was ready to raise the price, they tried to get the government to make a 7.5-cent coin. When that didn't work out, they eventually raised the price to $0.06.
$0.25
$1.00

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How much did it cost to see the Cubs play in the 1908 World Series?
$1.50
A ticket to a World Series Cubs game in 1908 was just $1.50. When the Cubs went back to the World Series in 2016, the face value of tickets ranged from $175 to $400 -- though tickets were actually going for much more than that. For game five, for example, the average ticket sold for $3,000.
$150
$1,500

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What did it cost to visit the family doctor in 1958?
$0.25
$3.41
A typical visit to the doctor cost $3.41 in 1958. Today, the average visit costs an uninsured patient $160, and even insured patients will pay $49 out of pocket on average.
$97

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How much for a pound of bananas in the mid '50s?
$0.01
$0.17
Yes, we have bananas, back then and today! In 1955, bananas cost $0.17 per pound. Today, they're around $0.59 per pound -- still cheap by any standard.
$3.00

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Gotta have steak? How much would one cost you per pound in 1955?
$0.03
$0.90
A round steak cost $0.90 per pound back in '55, compared to $4.30 per pound today.
$7.21

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True or false: Air travel is cheaper today than it was 50 years ago.
true
Today, a standard air ticket costs around 1 percent of a person's average income. Back in the '50s, it would cost around 5 percent of a typical income. A ticket from Chicago to Phoenix was around $138 round-trip, which equates to around $1,168 today.
false

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How much for a pack of smokes in 1960?
$0.20
Around 50 percent of adults smoked in the early '60s, and cigarettes were dirt cheap, averaging just $0.20 per pack. Today, they ring in at $5.51 nationwide.
$0.99
$2.00

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How much for a dozen eggs in the mid '80s?
$0.25
$0.90
A dozen eggs cost just under a dollar 30 years ago, and averages $1.73 in 2016.
$3.00

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What did the average household spend on electricity each month in 1965?
$1.25
$6.90
$17.55
The typical monthly electric bill in 1965 was $17.55. Today, it's closer to $110.21 and rising each year.

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How much was a washing machine in the '50s?
$7
$40
$120
A washing machine cost between $120 and $130 in 1954. Today, typical budget units range from $275 to $400, and even those include bells and whistles that '50s housewives could only dream of.

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How much did a refrigerator cost in the 1940s?
$15
$75
$200
The first modern refrigerators came out in 1925. By 1947, a typical unit cost $200 -- that's $1,800 in today's dollars. An average refrigerator in 2016 costs between $1,800 and $3,600.

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Love TV? How much would you spend for one in 1947?
$20
$120
$445
A 12-inch black and white television cost $445 in 1947 -- that's more than $4,000 in today's dollars. You can get a huge smart TV for around $1,500 in 2016.

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Did you know Chuck Taylor shoes were made way back in the '40s? How much did a pair of these iconic shoes cost in 1947?
$3
You could buy Chuck Taylor All-Stars for $3 back in 1947. Today, a pair of the classic shoes cost between $40 and $50 on average.
$20
$50

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