Have you heard of the Big Mac Index? The Economist‘s genius creation shows how various foreign currencies are valued against the U.S. dollar. For example, this past June, the magazine found that the British pound is “25% undervalued against the U.S. dollar,” because the exchange rate between the cost of a U.K. and a U.S. Big Mac is less than the actual exchange rate.
As it turns out, there’s a lot we can learn from the varying prices of Big Macs over the years. The burger’s price has risen with inflation over time, but it’s still a fairly affordable (and majorly unhealthy) fast-food sandwich. Here’s how the cost of a McDonald’s Big Mac has changed in the 53 years it’s been available.
And for more, don’t miss these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
The Big Mac hit the fast-food scene in 1967, and it cost less than a dollar. The three-bread-pieces sandwich was created in Pennsylvania before becoming a part of the nationwide McDonald’s menu in 1968.
A vintage McDonald’s menu from the 1970s lists Big Macs for just 65 cents each. It’s an especially good deal when you think about the fact that an order of fries cost 46 cents, almost as much as the sandwich.
By the 1980s, McDonald’s was focused on selling meal deals, not just individual sandwiches and sides. A Big Mac, fries, and a Coke would set you back just $2.59 in the ’80s, as this throwback ad so hilariously demonstrates.
And according to Seeking Alpha, a Big Mac by itself cost just $1.60 in 1986. Now that’s a bargain.
A photo of a McDonald’s menu from the ’90s shows a Big Mac listed for $2.45, with a Big Mac Extra Value Meal listed at $4.59. And Seeking Alpha noted that the average price of a U.S. Big Mac was $2.50 in 1998. Ah, the good old days.
According to a menu photo shared on Cockeyed, a Big Mac cost $2.39 in 2002. (That doesn’t necessarily mean it was cheaper than it was in 1998, though; the other figure was an average of prices from multiple cities, and it’s not clear what city that $2.39 is from.)
The same post from Cockeyed shows a 2013 menu displaying a Big Mac for a $4.19 price point. That’s a pretty steep increase from the 2002 price!
In New York City, at least, a Big Mac will cost you a solid $5 these days (and more, after tax). It’s still cheaper than a sit-down restaurant, but if you’re paying $7.89 for a Big Mac meal, you might be better off eating somewhere else.
For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.