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January 26, 2013

Josh Drespling: Ill health isn’t the only price to pay for fast food

NEW CASTLE — Now that January is nearing a close, we have begun to put that New Year’s resolution foolishness aside.

I found myself pulling through the drive-thru at Wendy's for the first time in many months. I had sworn off fast food and was holding up strong, until I got stuck working a double shift with no lunch and no breaks.

Once I was finally free from the four walls of my employment cell, I decided that I needed to stop somewhere and get something to eat. It had been almost 24 hours since I had eaten. I knew if I didn't stop I would have to cook something when I got home around 11 p.m. I had no desire to do that, especially knowing that I had to turn around and be back at work at 8 a.m.

As I turned the corner, I could see the Wendy's sign glowing in the distance as I pondered what tasty treats I could indulge in. I pulled into the drive-thru lane with visions of a Junior Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe and Spicy Chicken Nuggets dancing in my head.

I stopped beside the menu board, turned off the radio, and rolled down the window. As my eyes searched for the usual fare on the Value Menu, I noticed something peculiar. All the 99 cent items had been raised to $1.29, $1.49, and $1.59. Moreover, it is now called the “Right Price Menu,” as if to imply Wendy’s had been charging the wrong price in years past.

I was taken aback by my discovery. What wickedness is this that has befallen my late-night snacking paradise?

After a little digging and Internet snooping, I found that all the major fast-food joints have followed suit and raised the prices of their value and dollar-menu items. They have also thrown in a sneaky new name to put a happy little smile and twist on the fact that a cold, hard dollar just doesn’t buy what it used to.

According to the United States Department of Labor Statistics, a single greenback in 1972 (the year I was born) is equivalent to $5.49 in today’s market. Each decade would seem to cut the value in half. Before you go jumping on the “it's all this president’s fault” bandwagon, you should know that in the most recent 10-year span it has only decreased by a margin of 18 cents. (76 cents in the ’90s, 63 cents in the ’80s, and 47 cents in the ’70s).

I'm not complaining. Well, maybe a little. I guess the rise in cost of these tasty vittles will ultimately force me to eat healthier. I really should not be partaking of such things anyway.

With the price and health concerns of fast food, in my mind I've made my way to the supermarket.

My goodness! Has anyone seen the prices here? I'm gonna need a loan or a significant raise or perhaps a time machine to pay for lunch.

 

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