Cookout prices are not what they used to be

Food inflation is taking its toll. A typical hamburger/hot dog meal for four will cost $61.16, according to the National Retail Federation (via OC Register), up from $54.62 in 2010. Guess what's jumped the most in price? Charcoal - it's more than doubled in a year. Actually, most items on the grocery list are higher, including burger meat, lettuce, onions, and cheese. On the bright side, hot dogs are cheaper. Prices vary widely based on location and store, but here's a sampler.

Item 2010 2011
Hamburger patties (2-lbs) $5.38 $6.18
Hot dogs $2.91 $2.81
American cheese $2.40 $2.76
Hamburger buns $1.96 $1.09
Hot dog buns $1.96 $1.09
Lettuce $0.99 $1.37
Onions (0.5 lbs) $0.60 $0.48
Relish $1.38 $1.27
Tomatoes (1 lb) $1.52 $1.58
Chip dip $1.68 $1.69
Potato chips $2.56 $2.75
Ketchup $1.50 $1.96
Mayo $2.57 $3.36
Mustard $1.58 $1.45
Pop (12-pack) $2.81 $2.91
Beer (12-pack) $9.49 $9.99
Popsicles $2.99 $3.44
Watermelon $4.66 $4.40
Charcoal $3.09 $7.41
Lighter fluid $2.62 $3.19
TOTAL $54.62 $61.16

By the way, the Daily Beast has been good enough to provide lists of the healthiest and deadliest hot dogs. Each dog was ranked based on calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium and protein. The calorie range is huge - from 45 (Ball Park Smoked White Turkey Franks) to 300 (Dietz & Watson).

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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