How much did things cost in 1950 - USA?

ZenithFM/AM radio, 1950
This Zenith FM/AM cost $49.95 in 1950 Image by Joe Haupt licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Prices have risen considerably since 1950. This table gives you an idea of how prices have changed since 1950.

Technology changes have made some items cheaper in real terms. You could probably find a radio for $19.95 today, but allowing for inflation, the 1950 radio would be $230. Basic televisions were also very expensive in 1950.

Many things were much cheaper: houses, cars, posting a letter and cigarettes.

These are some prices of items in 1950.

1950 priceInflation adjusted
Median family house price (1)$8,286$96,000
Gallon of gas27c$3.10
Chevrolet Deluxe car$1,529$18,000
Ford Fordor Deluxe Sedan$1,472$17,000
Philco 16" television $199.95$2,300
Zenith Pacemaker table radio (AM only) $19.95$230
Zenith table radio with FM band$54.95$640
Philco 9 cubic-foot deluxe refrigerator$319.95$3,700
Furniture: complete bedroom suite$595$6,900
General Electric (GE) vacuum cleaner$59.95$700
Eversharp Reporter ballpoint pen$1$12
Furniture: Tuxedo button-back sofa$245$2,800
Clothing: men's rayon sports shirt (Gimbels, New York)$3.95$46
Clothing: dresses (Gimbels, New York)$7.99 to $17.99$93 to $210
Proctor 2-slice automatic pop-up toaster (Goldsmith Brothers, New York)$13.95$160
20 cigarettes (average price) (2)20c$2.30
Posting a letter3c35c
Newspaper: The New York Times5c58c
Hamburger at McDonald's15c$1.70
Sourdough rye loaf (Bohack, self-service supermarket)18c$2.10
Beer 2 12oz cans (Bohack, self-service supermarket)29c$3.40
Chicken per lb (Bohack, self-service supermarket)41c$4.80
Sliced American cheese per lb (Bohack, self-service supermarket)45c$5.20
Eggs - 1 dozen (Bohack, self-service supermarket)63c$7.30
Frankfurters lb (Bohack, self-service supermarket)65c$7.50
Flour (5lb)49c$5.70
Bread (per lb)14c$1.60
Road steak (lb)94c$11
Chuck roast (lb)62c$7.20
Pork chops (lb)75c$8.70
Bacon (lb)64c$7.40
Butter (lb)73c$8.50
Eggs (dozen)60c$7
Milk (½ gallon)41c$4.80
Oranges (dozen)49c$5.70
Potatoes (10lb)46c$5.30
Canned tomatoes (No. 303 can)12c$1.40
Navy beans (lb)15c$1.70
Coffee (lb)79c$9.20
Margarine (lb)31c$3.60
Sugar (5lb)49c$5.70


(1) Median family home price from "22nd Annual Report of the Federal Housing Administration", 1955 page 107

(2) 'Annual Report on Tobacco Statistics, 1959', published by the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, page 50

By Steven Braggs, February 2022, updated July 2023

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