The Prices of Everyday Items in 1974

Vintage roll fillm, 1970's woman wearing an orange squared pant and vest cooking dinner on a gas stove.

The Prices of Everyday Items in 1974

What were the prices of everyday items in 1974? We’re 50 years on from the middle of the 70s, and you can certainly see the difference in what a dollar buys looking back through time. If you want to get a little envious of checkbooks of the era, you’re in the right place.


Soda has always been priced like a luxury good it would seem.

When looking at the prices of everyday items of the era, your family might indulge in a little soda here and there. In 1974 you could get a 6 pack of cans for around $0.88 across the country. Remember that 1974 was in the middle of a recession, so this was a high cost.


Canned soups are still inexpensive today.
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Condensed soup is a staple of cupboards across the country. The prices of everyday items in 1974 increased, but you could still count on a can of soup to be economically priced. You were looking at roughly $1.00 for 5 cans of tomato soup.


Basic boxes of cereal were relatively affordable 50 years ago.

Getting a cool bowl of cereal in the morning is always a fine way to start the day. As far as the prices of everyday items in 1974 go, this is fairly inexpensive. You could get an 18-ounce box of Corn Flakes for $0.43.

A Fast Food Burger

Hamburgers from McDonald’s used to be the definition of cheap.

Fast food took off in the 1960s, becoming a dominant presence in American cities by the 1970s. As such, you could turn to a rather inexpensive meal, a McDonald’s hamburger, for around $0.30 across the country.


Oreos are a timeless treat and were affordable in 1974.

When we’re factoring the prices of everyday items, you have to make a few allowances for a treat here and there. Store-bought cookies are a luxury, I’ll admit but are always great to have on hand. You’re looking at $0.55 for a pack of Oreos in 1974.

Chicken Breast

Meat prices are at an

all-time high right now, and the same seems to apply to 1974.

The humble chicken breast is a staple of many home-cooked dishes. As such, you’d likely be looking at weekly purchases of meat to fill out our meal plan. Chicken was one of the more expensive items when looking at prices of everyday items in 1974. At $0.79 a pound, this was certainly a weekly indulgence rather than a daily staple.


Grapes were relatively cheap for the time.
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Fresh produce is always great to have on hand. Grapes were far removed from the luxury food of antiquity in 1974, as the prices of everyday items certainly reflected. A pound of grapes in 1974 cost around $0.38 a pound.


It seems like everyone could afford a loaf of bread back in the day.

Few items are a cornerstone on the table than a loaf of bread. It is versatile and ubiquitous for a very good reason. Often, when looking at the prices of everyday items throughout history, I zero in on the cost of bread. It gives a good index of what the cost of living was for the era. In 1974, you could expect to pay $0.24 for a loaf.


The cost of coffee hasn’t changed that much when adjusting for inflation.
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I go through coffee like it isn’t anything, so I take a keen interest in these prices. Most households wake up to a mug of coffee, so we’ll factor it into the prices of everyday items. A 2-pound can of coffee in 1974 would run you $1.89.


I don’t think I could get oranges this cheap now, at least when adjusting for inflation.

Fruits like oranges were once regarded as a rare delicacy. In 19th century America they were relegated to a once-a-year treat for most households. By 1974, you could safely include them in the prices of everyday items. A single orange cost $0.10, which is a bargain.


Fuel costs haven’t really changed when looking at costs versus wages of the day.

I drive an EV these days, but gas cars were the norm in 1974. As such when looking at the prices of everyday items, you’re factoring in the cost of gas. 1974 was in the middle of an oil crisis, so energy prices were particularly high that year. Gas was $0.53 a gallon, which isn’t far off from costs today when adjusting for inflation.

Movie Ticket

Movie tickets are far more expensive for a single person these days.
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We were still a few years out from the VCR being a staple in homes across the country. As such, if you wanted to catch a movie, you did it at the cinema. Going by yourself to the movie theater was $1.89 per person. The top-grossing movie of 1974, incidentally, was Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles.


I was somewhat shocked to discover that vinyl prices haven’t shot up that much.

Now, vinyl records might not be a regular purchase. However, I’ll look at it in the same way as a Spotify subscription. As such, we’ll include it in the prices of everyday items. Vinyl prices fluctuated heavily during 1974, but you could routinely find new records for around $6.00. If you prefer a bargain, average prices from the era hover around $2.00 to $3.00 for older releases.


This translates to a $320,000 house essentially, depending on your area.

I hear you, houses aren’t everyday items. That said, I’ll factor it into the prices of everyday items all the same. Many families getting started in 1974 were purchasing their first homes. Now, 50 years back didn’t have the same challenges with housing as today, but they were still a costly endeavor. You were looking at an average of $47,000 across the country when purchasing. As an aside, the 1970s had astronomically high interest rates, starting the decade at 7.5% before rising to 10.03% in 1974.


Eggs are a timeless staple, we go through a couple dozen weekly at my house.
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The perfect protein, eggs are just one way of many great ways to start the day. A dozen eggs went for $0.78 in 1974. This was something you’d keep on hand regularly, so it is a natural fit when looking at the prices of everyday items of the era.


Buying a new car wasn’t that cost-prohibitive given the average wage of 1974.

Cars aren’t everyday items, I do recognize that. However, many households were purchasing new cars in 1974. Energy and gas costs were on the rise as we’ve discussed previously, so economical and efficient cars were the order of the day. The average car in 1974 cost around $3500.00.

Postage Stamp

No word on whether this includes forever stamps, I don’t think they were around at the time.

You certainly weren’t emailing correspondence in 1974. As such, postage stamps were a regular fixture in households. When factoring in the prices of everyday items, I recognize these aren’t weekly purchases. Still, you could get a single postage stamp for $0.10.


Milk was far more expensive than it is now, at least when accounting for average income.

Long before the slogans to push the dairy industry to the fore in the 1990s, milk was perhaps affordable. A gallon of milk could range across the country, but you were looking at $1.39 for a gallon. Interestingly, when adjusting for inflation, the prices of everyday items like milk fare better today than they did 50 years ago.


Thankfully, you could keep clean on a budget.
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Everyone uses soap, hopefully. Still, this is included in the prices of everyday items. Thankfully, soap seems to be relatively cheap. You could get 4 bars of soap for an average of $0.79 back in 1974.

Light Bulbs

This was decades before more energy-efficient bulbs.

I keep a box of light bulbs in my junk drawer for those pesky hall lights that burn out at random. As such, you’ll have some on hand. That said, you were looking at $0.79 for a box of 4 light bulbs. Certainly not economical for the times, but doable.

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