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Your Morning Matters: The true costs of Thanksgiving

Local organizations work around the clock to make the holidays brighter for families in need of clothes, food, toys and other household items.

Good morning and welcome to your Morning Matters — with “Editor Emeritus” Mark Sweetwood.

It’s Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, and we read a lot about inflation these days. With our Thanksgiving meal just two days away, I've seen a lot of articles like this one from our friends at Eat This, Not That: "This popular Thanksgiving food has skyrocketed in price." 

So, that got me thinking: How have Thanksgiving meals increased in cost over the years? So, I took the prices from Eat This, Not That and checked out The Vindicator grocery ads from 40 years ago today in 1981. Here's what I found:

Turkey (per pound)
1981: $.99 at United Family Foods
2021: $1.50
Pumpkin Pie
1981: $.79 at Esposito's Golden Dawn
2021: $8.83
Gallon of milk
1981: $.59 at Esposito's Golden Dawn
2021: $3.30
Pound of yams
1981: $.39 at Hi-Lo Markets
2021: $1.87
Whipped cream
1981: $.79 at Mavar's in Austintown
2021: $1.78
Stuffing mix
1981: $.49 at Esposito's Golden Dawn
2021: $2.29

It is obvious that prices have gone up in 40 years. I then adjusted the 1981 dollars to the 2021 equivalent using the CPI Inflation Calculator:

Turkey (per pound)
1981: $3.01 
2021: $1.50 
Pumpkin Pie
1981: $2.40
2021: $8.83
Gallon of milk
1981: $1.80
2021: $3.30
Pound of yams
1981: $1.19
2021: $1.87
Whipped cream
1981: $2.40
2021: $1.78
Stuffing mix
1981: $1.49
2021: $2.29

Well, if you could make a meal out of whipped cream and turkey, you'd be living more cheaply in 2021. The budget killer is the pumpkin pie. And while turkey is accused of a "skyrocketed" cost by Eat This, Not That, the gobbler has NOT kept up with inflation. In fact, if you figure a 16-pound bird, you'd save the equivalent of $24 from 1981 ($48) to 2021 ($24), which would make up for all of the other increased costs. 

The bottom line? Enjoy your meal and maybe push back a bit on the pumpkin pie and let’s make Thanksgiving week special!

Here's what else you need to know about the Mahoning Valley today:

Local organizations work around the clock to make the holidays brighter for families in need of clothes, food, toys and other household items. 

Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley works with 160 local agencies — food pantries, faith-based organizations, school pantries and homeless shelters — to stock hundreds of different types of goods. The Salvation Army in Mahoning County raises money in November and December to fund free lunches throughout the year. And both could use your assistance right now. Reporter Amanda Joerndt has the story.

Pandemic facts

  • In the U.S.: 47,886,798 confirmed cases; 772,381 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine at 10 p.m. Nov. 22.
  • In Ohio: 1,647,237 confirmed or suspected cases; 26,063 deaths.
  • In Pennsylvania: 1,691,773 confirmed cases; 32,931 deaths.
  • In the Mahoning Valley: 34,114 confirmed or suspected cases in Mahoning County; 25,713 in Trumbull; and 16,030 in Columbiana.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: Closed at 35,619.25, up 17.27 points, or 0.049%.

Other matters

Mahoning Valley law enforcement agencies have been awarded state grants to help support law enforcement efforts. We have all of the details. Mahoning Matters

Youngstown State University’s public radio service, 88.5 WYSU-FM, will air special holiday programs on Thanksgiving Day. Mahoning Matters

A 2020 survey found that 78% of people wash or rinse their turkey in an effort to clean it before cooking. This is a major mistake, experts say. Mahoning Matters

A monetary donation from Mark Fusillo of Fusillo Catering Inc. will provide 1,000 holiday meals to the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley this week. The Business Journal [May encounter paywall.]

As it enters the final phase of renovations, Youngstown’s Main Library is closed through the end of the year. WKBN

Student absences, forced COVID-19 quarantines and teacher shortages have Youngstown City Schools opting to close their buildings to students this week until after the Thanksgiving break. The Vindicator [May encounter paywall.]

Turner Road near the intersection with Kirk Road in Austintown is expected to be closed through Dec. 3 as crews continue work on the Turnpike Bridge above it. WFMJ

In case you missed it

The Blank Space, an event venue managed by cousins Nina Gabrelcik and Jennifer Wilson, opened its doors earlier this month with the goal of bringing a modernized open-space venue to the Trumbull County area. Mahoning Matters

This story was made possible by Farmers National Bank.

Event of the day

The Dana Chamber Brass Ensembles, directed by Andrew Mitchell, will perform at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Youngstown, 201 Wick Ave. The concert is free and open to the public.

To see what else is going on around the Mahoning Valley, check out Mahoning Matters’ event calendar here, or click the Events tab on the top menu at mahoningmatters.com.

Story tips

Is there a story you think we should know about? Please tell us at news@mahoningmatters.com.

Let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful for you. Send your ideas and thoughts to mark@mahoningmatters.com. If you want to get this in your email inbox, sign up here.



Mark Sweetwood

About the Author: Mark Sweetwood

Mark Sweetwood has spent 39 years working in the local news business. For more than a decade, he served as managing editor of The Vindicator. He also teaches journalism at YSU.
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