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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Self.
The one-dollar bill is one of the world’s most powerful pieces of paper.
In 2021, due to the pandemic, inflation hit a 30-year high, highlighting the changing power of the dollar for most folks. And while a single buck isn’t going to buy you your first home or a brand new set of wheels, it is crucial for your weekly groceries or gassing up those wheels.
We wanted to know how the power of the dollar has changed over time so we analyzed historic pricing and cost-of-living data to show you what your $1 would get you at the grocery store in 2021, compared with every decade going back to 1900.
The Value of $1 in 1900-1910 versus 2021
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Overall, across the goods we analyzed, we found that one dollar purchased approximately 94% less in 2021 compared with 1900-1910.
Below is a breakdown of what one dollar could purchase in 1900-1910 compared with the 2020s.
|Item||| Amount per dollar (1900-1910)||| Amount per dollar (2020s)||| Change (%)|
|Chocolate||1.25 lbs.||0.1 lb.||-92%|
|Coffee||3 lbs.||0.18 lb.||-94%|
|Butter||4 lbs.||0.26 lb.||-93.50%|
|Lemons||80 lemons||1.8 lemons||-97.75%|
|Toilet paper||12 rolls||1.2 rolls||-90%|
|Soap||20 bars||0.78 bar||-96.10%|
|Gasoline||14.3 gallons||0.3 gallon||-97.90%|
|Rice||14.2 lbs.||1.4 lbs.||-90.10%|
|Bread||14.2 loaves||0.5 loaf||-96.50%|
|Milk||3.6 gallons||0.3 gallon||-91.70%|
While our data goes back to 1900, it’s considered that the power of the dollar was actually at its peak in the 1910s after the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913, which was designed to alleviate the damage caused by financial crises, primarily brought on by the financial panic of 1907.
You can see the power of the 1910s dollar (1910-1920) in some grocery items in our analysis. For example, chocolate peaked in the decade at 2.1lbs./$1 as did lemons at 125 lemons/$1.
However, some other items were at their most cost-effective in the 1920s during this period …….