18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Saturday, March 14, 1914: Do get some good things to eat these days. It was oranges for this day. I had callers this afternoon.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Grandma’s still recuperating from her tonsillectomy on March 11. Who came to visit? . . . someone special? . . . and did he or she bring the oranges?
Oranges were considered a special treat in Pennsylvania a hundred years ago since it was expensive to ship them in from the South, but they weren’t as costly as I might have guessed. According to the Morristown (New Jersey) Daily Record, you could buy a dozen oranges for 25¢ in 1913.
Of course there’s been lots of inflation since then. An online inflation calculator says that a 1913 dollar is now worth $23.81, so in current dollars you could buy a dozen oranges for $5.95 back then. That’s a little more than what oranges generally cost today, but not much.
If you are interested in looking at how prices have changed across the years, you might enjoy a website that the Morris County Library in New Jersey has which lists prices for lots of items for each decade between 1903 and 2013.