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(The Consumerist)   How did a Coke only cost a nickel for 70 years? Because Coca-Cola said so   (consumerist.com) divider line 34
    More: Interesting, Coca-Cola, fixed price  
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4521 clicks; posted to Business » on 15 Nov 2012 at 5:08 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-11-15 05:01:44 PM  
According to inflation numbers I played with, that means that a nickel bottle of Coke in 1889 would cost...$1.25, or about what it actually DOES cost now (less the local gas station markup). And they lost all of $0.11 due to inflation by 1959 standards. So amazingly, they really didn't inflate it too much given modern costs.
 
2012-11-15 05:25:02 PM  
Around the same time I used to get a 16 oz. RC cola for $.10 and a 1 oz. Hershey bar for $.05
 
2012-11-15 05:27:28 PM  
How in the heck did a Coke cost five cents for 70 years?

NPR digs into the history of Coke in its bottled form, going back to 1899 when two ambitious lawyers apparently badgered the president of Coca-Cola into letting them sell the stuff in bottles instead of at soda fountains.

Coke stuck at $0.05 until about 1959.


1899 to 1959 is 70 years?
 
2012-11-15 05:38:43 PM  
some other things cost about the same now as 60 years ago. bacon was pretty damn expensive in the 50's. a dozen eggs was about 60-80 cents in the mid 50's. with a ton of luck you can get a dozen eggs today for 79 cents on sale. my electronics choice is a vacuum bought around 1930 in a harold lloyd film i don't remember the title of. $75 bucks for the vacuum. in 1930 many people didn't have much more then 1 or 2 throw rugs in the house but the wife wanted the new fangled vacuum. inflation calculator says that $75 bucks is almost a thousand today.
 
2012-11-15 05:45:44 PM  
www.tradingeconomics.com

www.tradingeconomics.com
 
2012-11-15 05:59:33 PM  
Thanks Douchemitter for linking to the consumerist which was busy ripping off the original source at NPR.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/11/15/165143816/why-coke-cost-a- ni ckel-for-70-years
 
2012-11-15 06:13:28 PM  
In the late 60s when I was going up in Atlanta, I remember it being 15 cents for glass bottle out of a machine.
 
2012-11-15 06:25:07 PM  
I worked at the physical plant during my college years (96-01). They had one of the few remaining glass bottle machines down there and the local bottler still bottled in the old style, reusable bottles. It was $.40 for a bottle of ice cold Coca Cola. There is nothing better than Coke out of a glass bottle. Around 2000 or so, the bottler discontinued bottling in glass. It was a very sad day for all.
 
2012-11-15 06:27:02 PM  

Sin_City_Superhero: How in the heck did a Coke cost five cents for 70 years?

NPR digs into the history of Coke in its bottled form, going back to 1899 when two ambitious lawyers apparently badgered the president of Coca-Cola into letting them sell the stuff in bottles instead of at soda fountains.

Coke stuck at $0.05 until about 1959.

1899 to 1959 is 70 years?


In the NPR article that RoyBatty linked, the second paragraph seems to be talking about bottles of Coke being a nickel back in 1886, though that would kind of screw up the main thrust of the story that these lawyers were the first ones. I think the author must've gotten lazy on either the dates or just said "Fark it, run that puppy" once the deadline got close.
 
2012-11-15 06:38:05 PM  
Hey subby, how about linking to the original story next time instead of a third-rate site that copied and pasted from it?
 
2012-11-15 06:40:45 PM  
I LOVE a bottle of ice cold Coke with my plate of copy pasta!
 
2012-11-15 06:58:03 PM  

MrEricSir: Hey subby, how about linking to the original story next time instead of a third-rate site that copied and pasted from it?


In some ways, I like it when a submitter does something stupid like this. I've got an ad blocker, so Consumerist gets to serve me up the data for the story but doesn't get any of the revenue that comes from showing me an ad. I get the story, NPR saves a tiny fraction of a penny in avoiding data costs, and Consumerist gets shafted.
 
2012-11-15 07:05:36 PM  

Uzzah: MrEricSir: Hey subby, how about linking to the original story next time instead of a third-rate site that copied and pasted from it?

In some ways, I like it when a submitter does something stupid like this. I've got an ad blocker, so Consumerist gets to serve me up the data for the story but doesn't get any of the revenue that comes from showing me an ad. I get the story, NPR saves a tiny fraction of a penny in avoiding data costs, and Consumerist gets shafted.


Bandwidth is so cheap nowdays, I'm not sure it makes a difference. Besides, there's a chance some readers might be compelled to donate to NPR after reading/listening to their stories.

But then again, the economics of bandwidth and the economics of NPR donations both sound like excellent stories for Planet Money to cover.
 
2012-11-15 07:14:34 PM  
Inflation eventually put the nickel Coke in its grave, with the last one likely sold in 1959. But a product that costs the same for 70 years? That's something we'll probably never see again. I'm expecting to pay $100 for a piece of gum in like, 10 years, so that should be fun.

Well duh, we've been having controlled steady inflation since the 40s. No price will ever hold for long under that plan.
 
2012-11-15 07:15:37 PM  

mod3072: There is nothing better than Coke out of a glass bottle. Around 2000 or so, the bottler discontinued bottling in glass. It was a very sad day for all.


Most of the Mexican markets around here still sell it in glass bottles. Or go to asia, where the soda comes in a glass bottle. However when you buy it, they pour it into a bag full of ice (which you drink out of with a straw), so they can return the bottle to be sanitized and refilled.
 
2012-11-15 07:18:39 PM  
sodium cyclamate
 
2012-11-15 07:23:17 PM  

RoyBatty: Thanks Douchemitter for linking to the consumerist which was busy ripping off the original source at NPR.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/11/15/165143816/why-coke-cost-a- ni ckel-for-70-years


i566.photobucket.com
 
2012-11-15 08:01:22 PM  

FriarReb98: According to inflation numbers I played with, that means that a nickel bottle of Coke in 1889 would cost...$1.25, or about what it actually DOES cost now (less the local gas station markup). And they lost all of $0.11 due to inflation by 1959 standards. So amazingly, they really didn't inflate it too much given modern costs.


Your math is correct assuming you use the consumer price index as a deflator, but you could also take into onsideration the lower wages of yesterday. In terms of the unskilled wage, that 6 ounce bottle of Coke (later increased to 8 ounces, then finally 12 ounces today (for a can), was $6.17 in terms of the purchasing power of Joe Blow. The industrial worker was relatively worse off because he would be paying $10.10 (unions and government drove up the skilled wage throughout the Twentieth Century under Republicans drove it down again after Reagan, one of the reasons I intensely dislike Reaganomics and Reagan, not to mention Republicans, many of whom are crazier than both.

In short, Coke was not suffering much selling a bit of sugar water for a nickel--water was cheap and sugar was increasingly subsidized by Imperialism until 1959--the year Castro took over Cuba (coincidence? probably not).

If you were living in Europe, you'd be paying a lot more for a Coke (and they often have those smaller bottles still!) and in many Third World countries, buying a Coke is roughly equivalent to paying $6-$10 for a fruit juice glass of water and sugar.

In Canada you may get a bit more sugar--the cans here are 160 calories, I believe because the Canadian bottlers are using "real" sucrose sugar more, which adds a few extra calories over various other kinds of sugar. Cokes in Mexico may also contain sucrose, but the formula may be different to a slight degree if this makes economic sense.

In short, it may have been politics that forced Coke's hand, in which case it is another reason why conservatives hate Castro. Enough to try to kill him at least 634 times.

In fact, it is worth while to take a closer look at 1959. In that year, the value of a five cent Coke was 16 cents! Yes, it cost a lot less. Most agricultural products cost a lot less, and American made more money, so they could afford to buy a lot more of them. This was the Golden Age of Republicanism thanks to a lot of Socialism between 1929 and 1959. As a result, the consumer of 1959 was paying 69 cents (unskilled labor) or 92 cents (production line workers). Truly these were the good old days in many ways.

We are still richer today, though, despite Republicans screwing us over for decades since 1959. Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush haven't quite managed to get us back to the good old days (for Robber Barons) of 1912, the year before the income tax was made permanent. BUT THEY ARE TRYIING REALLY HARD, DAMMIT!

Coca Cola is often, like most Southern Institutions such as slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, Dominionism, Whang-Doodle Stump Preachers, Evangelical TV, and so forth, at the Heart of Darkness of PURE EVIL.

That's the secret ingredient in their syrop since they gave up cocaine. At least cocaine was all natural and less addictive than PURE EVIL.

Now, what is the real value of a Coke?

I am not sure about my methodology but if you take the cost of a Coke out of a machine where they really have you by the short and curlies (a captive market, such as in a bus terminal), the value of $2.50 today was 32 cents in 1959, or 28 cents in terms of the unskilled wage. Since most of the people paying bus station prices are unskilled workers or at least college students and grannies and escaped mental patients, that would seem to be a good estimate of what a Coke was "really" worth in 1959 if Coke had been willing to charge it before they had to change the price to pay for the fight against anti-sugar Communism at home and in Cuba.
 
2012-11-15 08:26:21 PM  
25.media.tumblr.com

You're going to have to answer to the Coca-Cola Company...
 
2012-11-15 08:37:34 PM  
I'll take a Mexicola from El Mesquite, por favor.
 
2012-11-15 09:15:17 PM  
^^^ This. Mexicoke in a glass bottle is heaven on earth
 
2012-11-15 09:46:01 PM  
www.helge.at

/me make joke
 
2012-11-15 09:50:28 PM  
Man, in the 70's, when I was growing up, Cokes, comic books and candy bars all cost 25 cents. I can't even figure out what a Coke costs now, since they keep inventing new sizes(Always to show how Cokes are "still" 89 cents, or whatever price they are pimping with the smaller size), but candy bars and comic books have wildly diverged in price.
 
2012-11-15 10:14:47 PM  

Mikey1969: Man, in the 70's, when I was growing up, Cokes, comic books and candy bars all cost 25 cents. I can't even figure out what a Coke costs now, since they keep inventing new sizes(Always to show how Cokes are "still" 89 cents, or whatever price they are pimping with the smaller size), but candy bars and comic books have wildly diverged in price.


I remember going to the US in the 90s, chocolate bars were 50 cents for a very long time. Sometimes they were on sale for 35 cents.
 
2012-11-15 11:08:31 PM  

Waldo Pepper: Mikey1969: Man, in the 70's, when I was growing up, Cokes, comic books and candy bars all cost 25 cents. I can't even figure out what a Coke costs now, since they keep inventing new sizes(Always to show how Cokes are "still" 89 cents, or whatever price they are pimping with the smaller size), but candy bars and comic books have wildly diverged in price.

I remember candy bars going for a nickel which was great since there was no tax on a nickel, then they jumped to a dime which held for a long time. Woolco would put them on sale 15 full size candy bars for $1


They're going up in price and down in size... :-(
 
2012-11-16 12:11:02 AM  
My grandparents own a Coke vending machine that was built in the 1950's. Basically it was just a full-sized fridge with a rotating drum inside, and a small door that would only let you take out a Coke if the drum was properly aligned. Adding the right coinage would let you rotate the drum a notch, and present you with a Coke. The coin slot was originally the perfect size for a nickel, and the coin mechanism was elegantly simple: if someone put in a coin that was lighter than a nickel, (e.g. a penny or a dime), that coin was returned. Only nickels were accepted, and would get you a Coke.

But then the price changed from a nickel to a dime. Does this change require swapping the whole coin mechanism? Nope! just hit the steel cover of the coin slot with a hammer to make the opening too thin to accept nickels, and adjust the spring in the coin mechanism to reject coins *heavier* than a dime. Simple mechanism, simple modification.

/end CSB
 
2012-11-16 12:21:10 AM  
check out the price of red bull. young people are idiots. easily swayed idiots that don't know the value of a dollar.
 
2012-11-16 01:09:36 AM  
I have vague memories of vending machine 12 oz in later 1960s at fifteen cents, when the minimum was was about $1.25. (so you could buy about 8 cans for a minimum-wage hour's work).

Today, it's hard to say what the vending price is (swings wildly with the "captive market" mentioned above); today's minimum wage is $7.25 or more, and that would buy about nearly eight cans at the one-dollar-a-can vending machine near me.

But then, nobody pays anything like $24 for a 24-pack at the grocery store, so it is quite a fluid commodity, I guess (no pun intended).

/ah, the beloved glass bottles! Mexicoke is a good way to revive the memory, especially if refrigerated to bone-cracking cold. 
 
2012-11-16 01:21:08 AM  

Ironclad2: But then the price changed from a nickel to a dime. Does this change require swapping the whole coin mechanism? Nope! just hit the steel cover of the coin slot with a hammer to make the opening too thin to accept nickels, and adjust the spring in the coin mechanism to reject coins *heavier* than a dime. Simple mechanism, simple modification.


And if you have 2 nickels, SCREW YOU!
 
2012-11-16 07:24:44 AM  

Shazam999: Mikey1969: Man, in the 70's, when I was growing up, Cokes, comic books and candy bars all cost 25 cents. I can't even figure out what a Coke costs now, since they keep inventing new sizes(Always to show how Cokes are "still" 89 cents, or whatever price they are pimping with the smaller size), but candy bars and comic books have wildly diverged in price.

I remember going to the US in the 90s, chocolate bars were 50 cents for a very long time. Sometimes they were on sale for 35 cents.


And they had actual cacao instead of corn sugar and wax these days. I always found it fascinating how many candy bars in the U.S. had peanuts in them. It seemed almost impossible to get anything that wasn't stuffed with whole peanuts or peanut butter.
 
2012-11-16 12:33:32 PM  
If you farkers are every looking for an interesting book, I recommend "The Emperors of Chocolate". It talks about the confection industry in the US and, specifically, how Mars and Hershey helped to shape the chocolate industry in the US.

I bring it up because there was a whole section about how Hershey struggled to keep the Nickel (Dime?) chocolate bar while maintaining costs. They kept whittling the size down and down until it became a joke and they had no choice but to raise costs.

/CSB
 
2012-11-16 01:16:55 PM  

swaxhog: Shazam999: Mikey1969: Man, in the 70's, when I was growing up, Cokes, comic books and candy bars all cost 25 cents. I can't even figure out what a Coke costs now, since they keep inventing new sizes(Always to show how Cokes are "still" 89 cents, or whatever price they are pimping with the smaller size), but candy bars and comic books have wildly diverged in price.

I remember going to the US in the 90s, chocolate bars were 50 cents for a very long time. Sometimes they were on sale for 35 cents.

And they had actual cacao instead of corn sugar and wax these days. I always found it fascinating how many candy bars in the U.S. had peanuts in them. It seemed almost impossible to get anything that wasn't stuffed with whole peanuts or peanut butter.


I have always considered American chocolate brands to be inferior for the most part (M&Ms are good though). Nestle and Cadbury up here are far superior. Of course chocolate bars have always been more expensive up here though.
 
2012-11-16 03:06:28 PM  
FYI, the reason the price of soda is relatively stable is because basically it's freaking water and water is cheap.
 
2012-11-17 02:03:45 PM  
Shazam999:
I remember going to the US in the 90s, chocolate bars were 50 cents for a very long time. Sometimes they were on sale for 35 cents.

I bought a candy bar a while back. I'm 33, so for most of my childhood, candy bars were general about half a dollar most everywhere or at least it seemed that way. And somehow it just got stuck in my head that that was about how much they should still cost, regardless of the fact that pretty much nothing else in the world is the same price it was when I was riding my bike to the convenience store after school. But somehow, my mind had totally convinced itself, that that antiquated price was THE price of that product, that that's what it was worth, regardless of inflation or product costs or whatever, a candy bar SHOULD be 50 cents as if the shop was consciously trying to rip me off. I was having an elderly person kind of moment sounding as silly and out of touch as my grandma did when she couldn't seem to fathom why offering a kid in the 80's or 90's a quarter to do a chore didn't seem to have the awesome cheer inducing motivating power it did back in her day when a quarter would have bought a double-feature movie with a drink and popcorn. It didn't make any sense to me back then that she couldn't seem to automatically grasp that a quarter didn't really buy anything anymore, definitely not anything worthy of trading actual labor for. I never would have guessed that in a few years I'd have that kind of weird inflation blindness.
 
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