Price Check at the Supermarket

So I went to Coles today, to see if that post about the cost of food made any sense. (Yes, I always do my fact-checking after I’ve published. My discerning readers wouldn’t expect any less.)

Most fruit hovered around the 30c-50c per 100g mark, and staple vegetables like onions and potatoes were around 25c per 100g. But processed food costs more. Bread is 60c per 100g. Lasagne, 70c. Butter 90c. Cake $1.10. Cheddar cheese $1.30. Steak $2. Camembert $4.79. And smoked salmon is $5 per 100g.

But the most expensive items were junk food. For instance, Funtastic Chocolate Surprise Eggs, with a toy inside, and pictures of High School Musical on the foil wrapper, was $11.00 per 100grams. (That’s $110 per kg!)

But tonight’s winner,  weighing in at $17 per hundred grams, which at $170 per kg makes it about a third the cost of silver bullion, is …


That’s right. Pez. Those little drops of hardened sugar in a plastic box. But these are no ordinary little drops of hardened sugar in a plastic box. There’s a reason why the Pez Corporation can charge so much for their sweets. 

Each Pez is lovingly handcrafted by sugar artisans in the jungles of Peru, dipped in platinum, and signed by the surviving members of the Beatles. For maximum freshness, they are flown to Australia (business class), and rushed to the supermarket in a refrigerated limousine, only stopping if there’s a good premiere on at the Opera House. If they can bribe their way past the heavies at Coles security, they finally take their place triumphantly on the shelf, proudly sporting the most enormous price tag in the supermarket!

And there they will stay, until the economy recovers.


4 Responses to “Price Check at the Supermarket”

  1. Deb Says:

    True! Makes sense they’re too expensive to eat, because the last time I tasted a Pez, they taste like crap.

    Speaking of which, it makes me think of the phrase ‘dirt cheap.’

    They sell it in bags, I know, not at coles but at big w at least.

    Not sure of the price, but I’d be interested to know.

    How expensive IS dirt per kilogram?

    • durand26 Says:

      Interesting question, Deb. I like the way your comments and posts always make me think! Anyway, according to this website,

      topsoil costs $4.50 for a 25kg bag. That’s 1.8 cents per 100 grams – far cheaper than, say, apples (35c per 100 grams), even though the apple ingredients come from the topsoil. Some people think of farming as a miraculous way to turn dirt into apples. But I believe it’s a miraculous way to mark-up the price of topsoil nutrients by 2000%.

  2. Robin Says:

    I can’t imagine eating 100 grams of Pez … or even 10 g of Pez … I wonder if there would be any value at the looking at the cost of preservatives – as in it seems natural foods are the cheapest, the more manufactured the item the more expensive (generally bread is pricier than an apple- well, that depends on the apple). But bread as a lot of preservatives in it, things that give it a longer shelf life- my thinking is something like cost versus length of how long something can stay fresh for? Just a thought.

  3. durand26 Says:

    You’ve spotted an important consideration for accountants in the food industry. The longer a food can sit on a shelf, the smaller the percentage of it going to waste, and therefore the cheaper it should cost. (Yes, processed foods with preservatives cost more, but can you imagine how much it would cost if they didn’t have preservatives?)

    On the other hand, authors like Michael Pollan argue that if it can sit on a shelf for a long time without going bad, it doesn’t constitutes food. Trans fats, for instance, don’t go off because they’re chemically stable. But that chemical stability means we can’t break them down into the nutrients we need, and they end up hanging around in our bodies clogging up arteries. In contrast, essential fatty acids come from polyunsaturated fats, which start to fall apart if they so much as glimpse some sunshine. To be biologically available, a food must be chemically unstable enough to rot.

    For more on this topic, check out “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, or Udo Erasmus’s eye-opening “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill”.

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