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What Happened to the American Middle-Class Meal?
Time magazine ^ | October 17, 2012 | Josh Ozersky

Posted on 10/21/2012 9:07:23 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Living in a big city, as I do, it isn’t hard for me to spend a lot on dinner. One big meal, and you can find yourself over $200 poorer, just for two people. Of course, it isn’t hard for me to spend very little on dinner either. I got fried pork chops and pork fried rice sent to me from the local Chinese takeout last night, and the whole meal cost me something like nine dollars. What is hard to get is a meal for $50 or so, and that seemingly innocuous fact speaks to an insidious trend not just in the food world.

Michael Whiteman, the restaurant industry guru who sends out a list of coming restaurant trends each year, calls this “dumbelling.” When Whiteman (whom I know well) first wrote about the trend, he had fast food in mind — in particular the simultaneous drift towards “premium” items on one side of the menu, and ultra-cheap “value” items on the other. At McDonalds and other burger chains, the marquee burgers are edging upward to $6 or even more; meanwhile, unspeakably gnarly, $1 burgers occupy the bargain basement. It’s not just at McDonalds that this sinister tendency plays out; dumbelling is happening in the culture as a whole, with a Funyun economy existing for the poor, and an heirloom tomato one for the prosperous.

Consider the state of our restaurant life....

(Excerpt) Read more at ideas.time.com ...


TOPICS: Agriculture; Business/Economy; Food
KEYWORDS: economy; food; foodprices; mcdonalds; restaurants
He somewhat has a point.
1 posted on 10/21/2012 9:07:32 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

My guess is he has no idea what middle class is. Plenty of places to get meals for 2 from $35 to $65.


2 posted on 10/21/2012 9:10:35 PM PDT by Snuph ("give me Liberty...")
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Author sounds insane.

Go buy $50 worth of stuff and grill it.


3 posted on 10/21/2012 9:13:19 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The middle class does not spend $50 a meal for one person

We spent $30 for the whole family on pizza, and thats splurging


4 posted on 10/21/2012 9:16:21 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Snuph

I must be poor. Wife and I eat good for $50 a week.


5 posted on 10/21/2012 9:18:51 PM PDT by gunsequalfreedom (Conservative is not a label of convenience. It is a guide to your actions.)
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To: GeronL

I think he meant $50 for one family, which is still mighty high where I live. You can buy an awful lot of beans, macaroni, rice and inexpensive meats for $50.


6 posted on 10/21/2012 9:20:08 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: Snuph

“My guess is he has no idea what middle class is”

The author lives in New York City, proof that he has no idea what an American is either...


7 posted on 10/21/2012 9:20:34 PM PDT by Pelham (Liberate the White House)
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To: GeronL

I spent $47 at the grocery store tonight and have enough to feed three people dinner for the next 5 days and enough leftovers for my lunches.


8 posted on 10/21/2012 9:20:47 PM PDT by Rebelbase (The most transparent administration ever is clear as mud.)
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To: Rebelbase
Five years ago, I'd have said, "yeah big deal". That is no small feat with today's grocery prices.
9 posted on 10/21/2012 9:23:42 PM PDT by riri (Plannedopolis-look it up. It's how the elites plan for US to live.)
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To: gunsequalfreedom

We spend $35 per week, and buy $15 per week of stuff for the grand daughter we babysit.

We also try to grow as much of our own produce as we can like lettuce tomatoes and onions etc. so that we are not feeding pesticides to her or ourselves.


10 posted on 10/21/2012 9:30:20 PM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

He had his wedding catered by celebrity chefs for FREE and didn’t disclose it in the TIME piece where he wrote about it... But instead gave the chefs tons of free advertising by praising it to high heavens. Dishonest creep.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2010/06/an_open_letter.php


11 posted on 10/21/2012 9:31:37 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Snuph

Seriously, it isn’t hard to drop $40 for a meal at most restaurant chains that are mid-scale - olive garden, chancery, etc. Plenty of 15-18-20 dollar items on the menu for one person, then add in drinks, even tea/sodas - and that will easily propel you over $40.


12 posted on 10/21/2012 9:31:37 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Snuph

one large order of fries, one large onion ring order ( 6 onion rings) and 3 of the large plain roast beef sandwiches at Arbys....over $23!!!


13 posted on 10/21/2012 9:32:40 PM PDT by cherry
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To: Snuph

I’m thinking he means 50 bucks for a family to eat out, since he menioned Friendly’s and Ground Round. But then again he’s in NYC. For most of America there are lots of Applebees, Chiles, Olive Gardens, etc., not to metion local places around.


14 posted on 10/21/2012 9:33:13 PM PDT by Hugin ("Most times a man'll tell you his bad intentions, if you listen and let yourself hear."---Open Range)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
He somewhat has a point.

Yes he does and it appears that most of the people posting here so far hadn't bothered to read the article.

I'll summarize it for those who are too lazy: The middle-class American restaraunt (and we're not talking Chili's or Appleby's here but actual family restaraunts where you got good food at a reasonable price served by waitstaff and consumed with actual silverware) has pretty much disappeared. It has been replaced by expensive "adults-only" type places on end and fast food on the other.

15 posted on 10/21/2012 9:37:00 PM PDT by Drew68 (I WILL vote to defeat Barack Hussein Obama!)
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To: Rebelbase

Please tell us what you bought and what you’re planning to cook with it. I live near DC and I could never manage your feat.


16 posted on 10/21/2012 9:37:06 PM PDT by ottbmare (The OTTB Mare)
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To: Snuph

YES, my husband and I can eat out for less than $50 easily...it’s the WINE that costs so much....if we didn’t drink 1-1/2 glasses apiece our weekly meal out would be cheap...and it ain’t hamburgers!


17 posted on 10/21/2012 9:43:41 PM PDT by goodnesswins (What has happened to America?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
Yessir, he do have a point. But if he's wanting to spend $50 there is 50 of those “unspeakably gnarly, $1 burgers”. I mean, he doesn't have to eat all his Unspeakably Gnarly Burgers at once. Stretch the fine dining out a bit.

Gnarly Burgers! Gnarly Burgers!

18 posted on 10/21/2012 10:06:26 PM PDT by count-your-change (You don't have to be brilliant, not being stupid is enough.)
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To: Drew68
Come to Grand Rapids. I've got one of those within a short walk of my home, and another less than two miles up the same street.

Both date back to when that street was the major highway through the city. Some of the small family-run motels have survived as well.

19 posted on 10/21/2012 10:09:59 PM PDT by ExGeeEye (Wait a minute! Romney doesn't suck? I'm trying to keep up.)
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To: cherry
one large order of fries, one large onion ring order ( 6 onion rings) and 3 of the large plain roast beef sandwiches at Arbys....over $23!!!

KFC used to be a decent medium priced fast food place, but these days the prices have just skyrocketed. 3 piece chicken tenders & fries is more than $5.00. And Long John Silvers is even worse. They've got combo platters that are $9.00 now!

Mark

20 posted on 10/21/2012 10:23:10 PM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
But not much of one. What he calls "dumbbelling" is simply the extension of a mass market combined with forking for the affluent or passionate. On the cut-rate end, the offerings are basic but the prices keep going down. This plain-but-cheap strategy, although good enough to garner big $ collectively from the masses, leaves a large group of people unsatisfied because they want a high-quality product. Those niches are filled by either a small division of the main producers, or by competitors who never become huge but do stay in business because of their attention to quality.

The book market has been "dumbbelled" for decades. In the early 1950s, a guy without too much bread could plunk down a quarter for Mickey Spillaine's The Big Kill. In addition, someone with more bread [or enough desire to belt-tighten] could plunk down several dollars for a hardcover of Human Action. And both books made their nut.

Back then, the complaint from liberals was about the market only catering to the "lowest common denominator." The so-called dumbelling phemomenon was pointed out by free enterprisers as proof that the free market also caters to more refined tastes.

And sure enough, the liberals ignored the point until they could work it into their narrative of complaining.

While I'm on the subject: I seem to be becoming a self-appointed historian of modern liberalism. Although my knowledge is sketchy, I have pointed out a few instances of today's liberals' golden ages being roundly complained about by the liberals of that time. Think of the treatment of Ronald Reagan then and now: I've seen enough memory-hole idealization to confirm that it's part of a liberal pattern.

21 posted on 10/21/2012 10:24:45 PM PDT by danielmryan
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

The price of a decent cut for 4 of London Broil has gone from around $6 on special in 2007 to $13 on special in 2008. I can get 1LB of 93% ground beef for $5.25 about where it used to be around $4 in 2008.

Lamb Shank, $2-3 now $6-7.

But pork and Chicken price rises have been substantially less.

Good Quality apples from .79 per pound to 1.29 per pound. Eggs 2.80 to 3.25

Prices aren’t going up in unison across the board for grocery store prices. I’m sure primary reason is transportation costs as fuel prices have been substantially up for extended periods of time.

So SHTF people ... keep the “How To” articles coming, cause it’s coming.

First casualty of internal strife are reliable food supplies.


22 posted on 10/21/2012 10:28:52 PM PDT by Usagi_yo
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

“Living in a big city, as I do, it isn’t hard for me to spend a lot on dinner. One big meal, and you can find yourself over $200 poorer, just for two people”

Author = Idiot.


23 posted on 10/21/2012 10:29:55 PM PDT by Psycho_Bunny (Thought Puzzle: Describe Islam without using the phrase "mental disorder" more than four times.)
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To: Usagi_yo

WTH do you live? 80% ground beef is about $3.50/lb., FIVE dozen eggs are $6.89, gallon of milk is $2.59, etc.


24 posted on 10/21/2012 10:42:18 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Hot dogs, mac and cheese, and microwaved veggies. Middle class meal for less than a buck per person. No EBT card required.


25 posted on 10/21/2012 10:50:02 PM PDT by ExxonPatrolUs ("Trizzle, trazzle, trozzle, trome, time for this one to come home" - Mr Wizard)
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To: Drew68; 2ndDivisionVet
I'll summarize it for those who are too lazy: The middle-class American restaraunt (and we're not talking Chili's or Appleby's here but actual family restaraunts where you got good food at a reasonable price served by waitstaff and consumed with actual silverware) has pretty much disappeared. It has been replaced by expensive "adults-only" type places on end and fast food on the other.

It's not just restaurants: read the "food" section that's in every Wednesday's newspaper (online or print). The editorial slant is heavily biased towards high-end, expensive recipes with exotic ingredients. There are no columns touting the blessings of an economical meal, enough to serve a small family, and made with humble, inexpensive ingredients. Forty years ago you could find recipes for meatloaf, or gelatin salads, or breads. That went out the window with S&H Green Stamps and returnable milk bottles. The recipes are for either fancy, expensive "gourmet" meals or for junk, and there's little in between anymore.

On the non-food side of homemaking, the "Hints from Heloise" column is gone (is it still being run anywhere?), there are no more columns on sewing, etc. These food and homemaking columns were written with the self-sufficient housewife (homemaker) as an audience. The modern sentiment is that she needs to be torn out of the house, away from a stove and off to a high-end restaurant or a fast-food place to serve her hungry family. The modest homemade meal served to family is seen as passe.

26 posted on 10/21/2012 10:56:40 PM PDT by thecodont
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I live in the South East in a cluster of small cities and towns, but rural area is still only 10 minutes away.

I haven’t seen milk at $2.45 a gallon since I was 12 years old and I don’t buy cheap eggs.

But the point was, the cost of eating decent healthy quality food has gone up some 30% over the last 5 years.


27 posted on 10/21/2012 11:10:17 PM PDT by Usagi_yo
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To: thecodont

That went out the window with S&H Green Stamps...”

I would venture that not a whole lot of people on here used S&H Green Stamps. We used to bowl at our local alley on Saturday night. Were able to pretty much buy everything in their catalog at the end of one year.

One of our local really good Italian restaurants sends out a $10 off coupon providing you spend a minimum of $30 once a month. For $20 four of us can eat reasonably well. What I do miss are the dollar menus at the local fast food places. Used to have an Arby’s where you could get 5 roast beef sandwiches for $5. Took care of my lunch for a week but they’re closed now.


28 posted on 10/21/2012 11:11:35 PM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Enjoy!

29 posted on 10/21/2012 11:12:06 PM PDT by jonrick46 (Countdown to 11-06-2012)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Take a chill pill Josh, you live in the snob bubble..Typical New York claptrap, if it isn’t in New York, it isn’t really happening, or worth talking about.. The fact is, a medium priced restaurant can’t afford your rent, so what they have left is the extremes..

Josh, and Michael Whiteman, (oh, and BTW, I know him too) are paid by the word, by the media elite, and not for being common, as in you and I.. I doubt he has ever eaten in an OLIVE GARDEN, CHEESECAKE FACTORY, or a CRACKER BARREL..etc..

We, you and I live in the mecca of diverse moderately priced cuisine, and it has never been better for middle America.. Within a 10 mile radius in most locations, one can find white tablecloth restaurants, with real forks and knives, and in many ethnic varieties..

Now, what we do lack is wholesomeness, but that is another story..


30 posted on 10/21/2012 11:42:24 PM PDT by carlo3b (Less Government, more Fiber..)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet; Rebelbase

Okay, one family is still.... although I thought I read “for 2 people” in the article and thought that was his basis.

This persons idea of “middle class” reminds me of the old soap operas where the “poor” people looked pretty well off to me most of the time. lol


31 posted on 10/21/2012 11:52:19 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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To: Grams A

Hey Grams, I recall getting real piece of free China, as in dishes, at the local theater, with a double feature.. We all eventually had a complete set, just by going to the Show..

Before S&H green stamps, there were Premiums everywhere.. Toasters, Radios, TV’s and Irons, at banks for opening savings or checking accounts, or appliances at department stores, free for opening a charge account..

Towels, tea, face, and bath, in laundry detergents, and real toys in cereals.. I grew up loving this stuff, and built my own business model on my youthful passions for FREE STUFF.. If you planned your convention at my hotels, I’d give the CEO a New Cadillac.. TRUE :)


32 posted on 10/22/2012 12:08:17 AM PDT by carlo3b (Less Government, more Fiber..)
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To: thecodont

Oh my, you must have missed our FReeper Cookbook threads every Friday, plenty of wholesome recipes, hundreds of them.. Never heard about the “CLINTON LEGACY COOKBOOK”? You haven’t lived yet.. HA!


33 posted on 10/22/2012 12:17:10 AM PDT by carlo3b (Less Government, more Fiber..)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

He obviously hasn’t ever heard of Outback or Olive Garden or Red Lobster or Buccs De Pepo or Black Angus.....I am sure there are local moderately priced restaurants as well. Anyone who would send out for pork fried rice and be thrilled with a $9 charge is an idiot. Obviously living in the Big Apple has made the man delusional


34 posted on 10/22/2012 2:40:42 AM PDT by Nifster
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To: Drew68

might be true in NYC...most definitely is not true in the rest of America.


35 posted on 10/22/2012 2:43:28 AM PDT by Nifster
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To: Drew68

>>The middle-class American restaraunt (and we’re not talking Chili’s or Appleby’s here but actual family restaraunts where you got good food at a reasonable price served by waitstaff and consumed with actual silverware)

Why aren’t we talking about Chilis and Applebys? Every time I see one of these “the middle class restaurant is gone” stories, someone always removes Chili’s, Appleby’s, Olive Garden, etc from the list of “acceptable” restaurants.

The poor can’t afford to eat there often and the rich think that those restaurants are too common for their tastes. That is the very definition of middle class.


36 posted on 10/22/2012 3:53:25 AM PDT by Bryanw92 (Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: GeronL

Since we live in the same area, this should be easy. Just drive past a Joe’s Crabshack. There is absolutely nothing about Joe’s that’s upscale. It’s not only middle class, but the downscale side of middle class. Last week, the wife and I had dinner there. Granted, it was the full course, appetizers, drinks, dinner, desert, but the result is the same, $200+, gone, poof. One meal at a truly upscale place like Dallas Chophouse can set you back twice that.


37 posted on 10/23/2012 4:55:08 PM PDT by Melas (u)
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To: ExxonPatrolUs

That sounds more like low income fare than middle class to me.


38 posted on 10/23/2012 5:00:35 PM PDT by Melas (u)
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To: Bryanw92
Why aren’t we talking about Chilis and Applebys? Every time I see one of these “the middle class restaurant is gone” stories, someone always removes Chili’s, Appleby’s, Olive Garden, etc from the list of “acceptable” restaurants. The poor can’t afford to eat there often and the rich think that those restaurants are too common for their tastes. That is the very definition of middle class.

Perfectly stated. Chain restaurants are the epitome of middle class dining.

39 posted on 10/23/2012 5:03:58 PM PDT by Melas (u)
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To: Melas

I never liked seafood, lucky me


40 posted on 10/23/2012 5:42:34 PM PDT by GeronL (http://asspos.blogspot.com)
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