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A Loaf Of Bread For 9 Cents: Here’s What Groceries Cost When Joe Biden Was Born

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President Joe Biden was born November 20, 1942—almost a year into U.S. involvement in World War II, which kickstarted a rise in food prices—and here’s what the basic groceries cost then, compared to what they cost now.

Key Facts

White bread cost 8.7 cents for one loaf in 1942, which would be about $1.70 in 2023—about 30 cents less than the average price of pre-packaged white bread today.

A pound of butter cost an average of 54 cents in October 1942, which would be about $9.95 today, when the average price of a pound of butter is $4.55.

Eggs cost an average of 58.5 cents a dozen in October 1942, which would be $10.78 in today’s dollars—about $8 more than the average cost today, which is $2.07.

Pork chops were 43.1 cents a pound in October 1942, which would be $7.94 today—$3 more than what a pound of pork chops cost, which is $4.45.

A pound of apples cost an average of 6.2 cents in October 1942, about $1.14 in today’s dollars, compared to between $1 and $4 today, depending on the type of apple.

A head of lettuce cost an average of 13.9 cents in October 1942, which would be about $2.56 today—not far off the average price of a head of iceberg lettuce now at about $2.

Key Background

Biden became the oldest elected president in U.S. history in 2020, at age 77. His advanced age has become a recurring topic throughout his presidency, particularly his critics, and polling for his 2024 re-election campaign suggests it is among the greatest concerns with voters.


After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 led the U.S. into World War II, retail food prices in the U.S. soared, according to a U.S. Department of Labor report on the retail prices of food for 1942 and 1943. In April 1943, then-President Franklin Roosevelt issued a “hold-the-line Order,” ordering a stop to further increases in “prices affecting the cost of living,” and wages and salaries “except where clearly necessary to correct substandard living conditions.” By May 1943, about 18 months into the war, retail food costs had risen more than 26 percent, according to the report. Food prices at the time were still “considerably below” a price peak in 1920 after World War I, the report noted. Record high consumer and military demand, as well as higher prices for farm products were responsible for food price increases in 1942 and 1943, according to the report.

Surprising Fact

The price of a traditional Thanksgiving meal for 10 will cost less this year than last year, according to an annual survey from American Farm Bureau Federation. The federation estimates a meal for 10 will cost $61.17, or about $6.12 per person this year, compared to $64.05 last year.

Further Reading

Thanksgiving Dinner Will Cost Less This Year—But Still 25% Above 2019 Levels. Here’s What’s Getting Cheaper. (Forbes)

Food Prices Outpace General Inflation: Here’s What You Need To Know (Forbes)

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