$18 for a Dozen Eggs by 2010? Inflation Fears in 1982

Illustration for article titled $18 for a Dozen Eggs by 2010? Inflation Fears in 1982

The Omni Future Almanac was published in 1982 — a year when America would see double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment. Despite all this, the authors of the book were generally optimistic about the future of the nation. Technology, they explained, would solve many of the problems facing the country. In conjunction with this, the American people would surely worker smarter and simplify their lives, all while improving everyone’s standard of living.

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From the book:

By 2000, most Americans will be experiencing a new prosperity. The problems of shrinking energy supplies and spiraling costs will be offset by developments in computers, genetic engineering, and service industries that will bring about lifestyle changes that will in turn boost the economy. Basically, Americans will be able to simplify their lives and spend less money supporting themselves. Indeed, energy conservation will force Americans to become more resourceful fiscally and to spend less on many items.

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But what about prices of the future? That double-digit inflation stoked fears that prices for common food items in the future would skyrocket.

The average price of a pound of beef in the year 2010? The book predicted it would be $22.75. The actual cost? About $3.75.

The prices of a loaf of bread? They predicted it would hit $8. Actual cost? About $2.50.

But which single commodity did they predict would level out in the 21st century? Somewhat shockingly, gasoline.

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That’s right, the book predicted that a gallon of gas (which cost about $1 in 1980) would peak at $4 in 1990 and then level off to $2 not only in the year 2000 but maintain that price into the year 2010 as well.

Illustration for article titled $18 for a Dozen Eggs by 2010? Inflation Fears in 1982
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But those staggering prices for basic sustenance doesn’t look quite so scary when you consider what they thought the average American would be paid.

A secretary of the year 2010? $95,000. A factory worker? $95 an hour.

Illustration for article titled $18 for a Dozen Eggs by 2010? Inflation Fears in 1982
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Of course, wages for secretaries, factory workers and public high school teachers haven’t even kept pace with inflation. But at least a subway ride isn’t yet $20.

This post originally appeared at Smithsonian.com.

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DISCUSSION

Obviously they had their crystal balls or time-viewers set to the organic section at “Whole Foods”. You can totally pay $8 for a loaf of bread if you really want to, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, one of my relatives has been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, and the prescribed diet is basically “fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and fresh meat, nothing ever pre-prepared in any way, consider baking your own freaking bread, you can’t ever eat out or eat cold cuts of any kind so no sandwiches, and definitely no soup you didn’t make from scratch with no salt”. How the living FUCK is an octogenarian with poor motor function and no income but Social Security (and nearly half of that dedicated to health insurance and Medicare) supposed to afford to eat and cook like that? His grocery bills are already killing him and this would quadruple or quintuple them, even if he could actually make fresh food every day for himself without burning down the kitchen or taking hours upon hours to make dinner. They might as well just put him to sleep like a pet at this point, for all he’s going to be able to keep himself alive with that diet.