Saturday, May 14, 2022
Mind-blowing example of inflation–a $2.25 multi-course Chinese lunch in New York City in 1965
by Larry Geller
I was listening to the Shep-A-Day podcast, which posts archived Jean Shepherd radio shows that originally aired on radio station WOR in New York City. It was a late-night show, and as a kid I would hide my transistor radio under my pillow and listen under the covers almost every night, as I fell asleep.
Below is a snip from Shep’s May 14, 1965 program. It’s a transcript of a commercial he read at the very end of the program.
Can you believe, a 10-course Chinese lunch for $2.25? Even if this offer is designed to be a loss-leader to bring in new customers, it boggles the mind that a restaurant could be this cheap.
The restaurant (on 21st St. in Manhattan) no longer exists, according to a Google search. I’d love to have been able to discover what the same meal costs there today.
For those who don’t know Jean Shepherd, he was a prolific entertainer, radio personality, author and even movie producer. Here’s his Wikipedia page.
His radio program was unusual – he talked continuously, played the kazoo and Jews Harp often. Every night he was on, for years and years, continuous talk. No one has matched his ability to do this. I recommend the podcast if you might be an old fan, or for those wanting to experience his unusual entertainment style. Here’s the RSS feed, or get it wherever you get your podcasts:
Shep-A-Day Fatheads Podcast: http://tomwsmf.com/podcasts/shepaday.rss
And here’s the commercial transcript:
"If you're going to make the restaurant scene over the weekend, I would highly like to recommend a visit to Happiness. It's an excellent restaurant. And I'm sorry that I've received all kinds of mail from people who missed our little party there before I went off to Australia, but Happiness is between 93rd and 94th Streets on Broadway.
And it is a fine Chinese restaurant and it really is a different kind. They serve the best dishes from Sichuan, Shanghai, Peking and Canton. It's really gourmet food and the prices are insanely moderate. You can get a fabulous 10 course dinner for just $2 and a quarter.
And it's unique. Not only that, you have this 10 course dinner and then you can eat as much as you want of it. That's two bucks and a quarter. It's a fantastic restaurant. It's served every day from 5:30 to 9:30pm and is an extremely pleasant restaurant. They serve a Hong Kong Tea House luncheon every day from noon to 4:30, hors d'oeuvres and Chinese pastries and so on.
At the lunch you just wouldn't believe how cheap that is. Nevertheless, it's Happiness and they're open Sunday. It's a great place to take the kids too. They've got a bar. It's Happiness between 93rd and 94th on Broadway."