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  • Writer's pictureCamie Idzinski

How Did Kevin McCallister Spend Less than $50 at the Grocery Store?

Have you heard of the “Home Alone Theory”? In the 1990 film, Kevin McCallister goes to his local grocery store and buys the following items: a half-gallon of milk, Wrapit! Plastic wrap, Stouffer’s Frozen Turkey Dinner, Snuggle Dryer Sheets, Wonder Bread, a 4-pack of Quilted Northern toilet paper, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, plastic rmy figurines, Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent, and a half-gallon of Tropicana Orange Juice. Kevin ended up paying only $19.83 for all 10 items. To us, this sounds like a dream to say the least. However, we need to break down the numbers to bring the main issue to light; why do everyday items not match our general income?

In the 90s, the cost of bread would be about $0.70 a pound, per unit. Currently, bread ranges from $2 to $4. The cost of the item is not the issue, inflation plays a big role in modern day, but not an evil one. Without it, many people would be in way more financial trouble than they would now, however, when we make preposterous wages unlivable, this can affect everyone just as badly.

In 1990, the general income in the state of Illinois (where Home Alone takes place) was about $40.00. If we look at the average household income for 2022, $81,000 took the cake, and that same grocery bill is now $44.40. The grocery bill doubled, however, just as the median income doubled as well. This poses little to no threat because the income and necessity match. However, in 2023, that same grocery bill jumped from $44.40 to $72.28 at the average grocery store. The jump being a 1.6% increase from the previous year doesn’t feel too bad, right? Not quite, the annual median household income is still $81,000 today. 

When looking outside of just groceries; education, housing, gasoline, ect are all continuing to grow and rise. Our annual income, however, stays the same across the board, making things at a tipping point of almost unlivable and unrealistic. If this 1.6% increase applies the same to our income, the average household would be making $129,000 yearly. 

The News Tribune ran an article on this said theory – fact checking how much that same grocery order would cost today across different stores (This also excludes any dietary restrictions). At Safeway, the bill before local/state taxes was $54.61. At Target, the bill just about matches Safeway at $57.20. Walmart carries the least amount of baggage at just $41.61.


Cover photo credits to Marco Verch on Flickr

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