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Big Macs and Golf Balls

Tim Gilbert

We didn't realize how strongly people felt about Big Macs! Here's a few additional comments, especially for those that didn't read the disclaimers at the end of the last blog post.

Of course we are familiar with the standard inflation calculators and other such financial tools etc. Frankly, they're rather meaningless for this conversation. Why? Because they are trying to capture the overall value of money and thus include too many variables: electronics, fuel, housing etc.

For example, what if we compare the price of film to color televisions? How about to the price of gasoline? Both give interesting answers but neither are particularly insightful. First, because electronic technology has moved far further and faster than film technology; the second, because the price of gas has more to due with taxes and politics than economics.

So we chose the Big Mac, after all, it was good enough for Economist magazine.

But maybe we should have used golf balls since they are similar commodities? Both are expendables in a specialized market and both are relatively unchanged over the last fifty years. (And don't bother sending us emails about the advances in either art. Golf balls are still round balls with dimples; film is still silver halide in a gelatin base. No significant advancements compared what's happened in the rest of technology.)

Back on topic, from what we can find, you could buy a golf ball (endorsed by a major player on the PGA tour) for about $0.30 in 1969. Sure, you could spend more but you'd just loose it in a water hazard anyway.

Today's prices are around $3.33/ball. Again, you can spend a lot more if you want to or you could buy "reclaimed" balls to save money but that only complicates the discussion.  So after an in depth study, (about 15 minutes, to be honest), we're sticking with the $3.33 price.

That puts the FPB ratio, (now it's Film Per Ball) at 2.7 in 1969 and 2.8 in 2020. We admit that we're surprised by that answer but we honestly didn't manipulate the data. That's just what fell out of our very quick research.

Granted, we didn't include TMax in our calculations, but nor did we include the Dixon Fire Golf balls at $75/dozen. Again, you couldn't buy either in 1969.

The point of this discussion: if you could afford golf balls in 1969, you can afford to shoot film today.

Okay, that's probably not really sound logic but you get the idea.


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