1950’s Prices

This menu from 1950 at an F.W. Woolworth store is an excellent example of how much cheaper it was to eat out during the 1950's.
This photo of a full service Mobil service station brings back memories of when twelve stations like this lined Main Street and Military Highway in Pineville, Louisiana with all the stations closed today and nowhere to buy gasoline on Main Street today.

I can remember driving with my sister to Hiawatha, Kansas from Pineville, Louisiana to see our mother. We took advantage of a gas price war in Texarkana, Arkansas to buy regular gas for 24 cents a gallon in 1969. 51 years later the  price of gasoline here in Knoxville, Tennessee is in the $2.50 range.

The gas that cost a total of  $4.80 in 1969 would cost $50 today to fill a 20 gallon tank.

The average price for a gallon of gas in 1950 was 18 cents with the price at the end of the decade being 25 cents so it was a bargain to buy gas for 24 cents ten years after 1959.

Car Prices in 1950’s

The average cost of a new car was $1,510 in 1950 and by the end of the decade was $2,200.

Even a Chevrolet Corvette was only $3,631 in 1958. A Cadillac convertible sold for $5,400 in 1959 with a 325 horsepower engine.

Prices For Other Items in 1950’s

Men’s all wool suits sold for only $28.90 in the 50’s while a cotton check dress sold for only $3.29. A one carat diamond ring sold for $399. This one carat diamond ring sells for $4,125 today.


One price that doesn’t seem cheap even now is the Ronson men’s shaver selling for $28.95. It is amazing that a Singer portable sewing machine sold for $19.90. The latest Singer portable sewing machine sells for $89 today.

Even rollaway beds sold for only $14.99 during the 50’s.

50’s Grocery Prices

There were many bargains found at the grocery stores in the 50’s:

Cheese – 45 cents a pound

Campbell tomato soup – ten cents a can

Coffee – 37 cents a pound

Eggs – 79 cents dozen which is another price that has not risen much in the last 50 years.

Sugar – 43 cents for five pounds

This link gives more examples of cheaper grocery prices in the 50’s:


This website gives more info on different decades including more prices for those decades:



Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

25 thoughts on “1950’s Prices”

  1. Andrew:
    Came across the F.W. Woolworth 1950 menu image. Interesting info, especially the prices. I am pulling together information for a book about 1950 and am wondering if you would have a high-resolution (300 dpi) digital I could use.

  2. Thanks for the memories. As late as 1987, I could eat lunch at a Woolworth lunch counter in downtown Toledo, Ohio.

  3. Did anyone have a counter at Woolworths that sold only chowmein with dry noodles on a bun served with a frosted mug of rootbeer? Sounds weird but it was a treat.

    1. Barbara, Thank you for sharing about the chow mein with dry noodles and frosted root beer. I don’t remember the chow mein, but appreciate you mentioning it. Frosted mugs of root beer were a favorite of mine. Wish they served root beer that way today.

  4. In 1955, the average price of gas was $0.23 to a gallon. However, when adjusted for inflation, this is worth about $2.03 today. In mid-January 2015, gas costs $2.04 on average throughout the country and this may be a conservative estimate because some states are outliers with higher prices. This means that we’re back the prices of 1955 exactly 60 years later. I love filling up gas in NJ for $1.87.

      1. Howdy! So, do not come and live in Brazil. Our average price for gasoline is around $4.50 per gallon and some places more than 5 dollars per gallon. You guys are very lucky!

      2. Continuing my pist down, I found one gas station in my town, Niteroi, Brazil, with a price of $ 6.45 per gallon of premium gas… Terrible thing!

  5. What a great era. I remember my mother going to the grocery store and buying 2 weeks of groceries and only spending $20.00 to $25.00. Sure be nice if prices where that today

    1. Julie, Know what you mean…the prices today are out of sight. The five loaves of bread for dollar deals are gone. Instead it cost over a $1 for one loaf of bread today.

  6. I grew up in Chicago… The day after Thanksgiving which is now called Black Friday, was the kick-off day for Christmas Shopping in “the Loop.” Every year, for as many as I can remember, Gram and I would catch the “El” and ride it through the neighborhoods to the Board of Trade building in the heart of the city’s downtown, where my mom worked. We would meet in the old
    Walgreen drug store on the corner, walk out through the huge revolving glass doortheat spinned continuously letting shoppers in and out. Our first stop, was always the Woolworth dime store across the street. I always ordered the same thing…turkey dinner with dressing, mashed potatoes, hot gravy, cranberry sauce, and a hot dinner roll with pats of real sweet butter. I can still taste those thick slices of white meat drenched in gravey. I was disappointed that the above menu didn’t include the turkey or roast beef dinners that Woolworth was known for. Ahhh great memories from thr early 1950’s. Thanks.

    1. Katy, Thank you for sharing those great memories from the past. Your description of the day after Thanksgiving meal at Woolworth’s makes me wish I had grown up in Chicago. I was only in Chicago one time in 1959, and will never forget the tall buildings in the Loop.

  7. Thanks for this information, but can you tell me how much you had to pay for a gallon of milk back then?

  8. I have to say Andrew, this article is almost 9 years old now. And seeing all the comments over the years and you still replying to them is awesome!

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