Here’s What These 15 Popular Things Cost a Century Ago

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If you’ve ever heard your grandparents reminisce on how cheap certain things used to be back in their day, then you know how much prices have changed over time. It feels almost unbelievable to see the drastic differences between what people paid in years gone by versus the prices we’re used to today. Let’s rewind the clock 100 years to take a look at how much 15 popular things cost an entire century in the past.

1. Gasoline

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If you’ve ever averted your eyes from the gas pump as you fill your car and the price of your transaction skyrockets at the speed of light, you probably wish you could enjoy the gas prices of the 1920s. A century ago, people only needed to pay 30 cents for a gallon of gas. Today, that number is often well over $3, and even higher in some regions of the country! The only chance we have of seeing gas prices like that today is by going to bed and encountering it in a sweet, sweet dream.

2. Eggs

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How do you like your eggs, scrambled or sunny-side-up? Either way, securing a dozen eggs from the market 100 years ago would have only cost you about 47 cents. That’s a whole lot of meals to feed yourself or your family for less than half a dollar. Talk about an egg-cellent deal!

3. Shoes

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If you’re a big fan of footwear, you sometimes have to fork over a hefty sum of cash to get the latest and greatest shoes. Back in the 1920s, you could get a good pair of boots for just $2-4. Women could purchase trendy T-strap shoes for the same price range. It’s crazy to think that a couple could both get themselves some spiffy new kicks all for less than $5!

4. Car

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The first cheap car to make an appearance on the market was called the Model-T. In 1920, this vehicle cost only $260, which would be about $3500 now. Oh, the places we could go if new cars still cost less than $300!

5. Haircut

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Nowadays, it seems like getting a simple haircut can cost an arm and a leg. So just how expensive was this routine procedure 100 years ago? To enjoy a trendy cut in the 20s, all you needed to bring to the salon was a crisp $5. If only this price had stuck around, we could all get fresh styles every single week.

6. Bread

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Bread has always been a popular staple in the American diet. It’s simple yet a total crowd-pleaser that fills up the stomach in no time. In the 1920s, an entire loaf of fresh bread would have cost about 12 cents at the grocery store.

7. Cinema

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could plan a fun day at the movie theater with friends and only pay an astonishing 15 cents for your ticket? If you could time travel back to 1921, that is the average price you would pay. Today, you’re going to be forking over a much larger sum to the tune of about $9.16 (or more).

8. Home

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Finishing off our list with one of the biggest purchases a person can make, let’s talk housing. Your average run-of-the-mill home was going to cost you somewhere in the ballpark of $6,300 back in the 1920s. How amazing would it be if you got a deal this good in 2023? Alas, in the modern market, this amount of money is only enough to pay a few months of rent on a shoebox apartment in NYC.

9. Eating Out

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Cooking at home can be fun, but there’s nothing quite like getting dressed up to go out and enjoy a freshly prepared meal from a local restaurant. If you were to indulge in such an occasion back in the 1920s, you could expect to pay about 50-70 cents for a meal. If those prices were still around today, you could feed a whole army with nice steak dinners without causing much damage at all to your wallet.

10. Suit

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A luxurious men’s suit costs a pretty penny to snag today. How much would you guess such an important outfit cost a whole century in the past? Well, if you predicted somewhere in the range of $10-22, you’d be right on the money. For this low price, you could get a complete three piece suit. Granted, due to inflation, that price would be the equivalent of paying about $286 in today’s money.

11. Refrigerator

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This appliance is a staple for any household. But depending on how many features you get, these items can get quite expensive. In the 1920s, you could invest in a good refrigerator for your kitchen for the low price of just $49.50.

12. Curling Iron

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Beauty was just as important 100 years ago as it is today. And just as we love to curl long, beautiful locks today, curling irons were a popular hot tool in the 1920s as well. However, back then, you could get one for just $2.19. If such prices still existed today, every woman could have a never-ending collection of sleek styling tools.

13. Wedding Dress

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Seeing as roughly half the population finds themselves purchasing a gorgeous white dress for their special day at some point in their lives, wedding dresses have long been a staple of society. While modern dresses can end up at sky-high price points of well over $1,000, a 1920s garment would have been around $150. Now that’s a dress you just have to say ‘yes’ to!

14. Baseball Tickets

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We’re throwing a curveball into this list with an entry that’s not quite as common as the rest of these items but still just as popular. Getting a seat at a Major League Baseball game in 2023 is going to cost you upwards of $30. But bleacher tickets for the 1921 World Series of the Yankees vs the Giants cost only $1.10. Instances like this really show us how much the value of money has transformed over the years!

15. Airplane Tickets

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Closing out this list with another type of pricey ticket, let’s end on a sky-high note by discussing airline costs. In 1921, an eight-hour trip from New York to Chicago cost $51.80. But this sweet deal gets even sweeter: for every minute that the plane was late, the airline guaranteed a $1 rebate! Just imagine all the jet-setting we could do if plane tickets were still this affordable.

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This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.

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Demi Michele is a seasoned traveler, turned freelance writer. Having explored most states and ventured internationally, her love for outdoor cafes, new cuisines, and cultural immersion shines through her wide range of articles. Based in Texas with her family and two Scottish Terriers, Demi turns her adventures into captivating travel narratives to share with readers.