What!? These Expensive Food Used To Be Cheap!?

We are all living in an age where food from all over the world, can be consumed in a city or even a small town, thanks to the globalisation of our modern era. Some local food was also inspired by other cuisine or inspired by other cuisines, which is a fantastic idea for any foodie. There is this one thing that many did not notice, that is some of those expensive foods or dishes we enjoy right now, used to be very cheap in the past. Let us walk through the passage of time and see what food used to be cheap.


Everyone’s favourite and most iconic Japanese food, Sushi

One of the most popular and iconic Japanese dish, eating with raw fish on top of vinegar rice. Introduced in the 8thcentury, popularised during the Edo period (AD 1603 to 1868) and spread throughout the country.

A bowl of Sushi, painted by Hiroshige (1797 AD – 1858 AD)

Many of us may spend hundreds of dollars if not more on this dish, even though the quantity may be smaller than usual. There is a reason, the classic nigiri sushi was first made as a snack. Yes, it is a kind of fast food during the Edo period, made and sold on a mobile cart for patrons to enjoy on the go. So sushi was first made as a snack to enjoy on the go, we do not have the price of a piece of sushi 500 years ago, but judging that it was a snack, it should not cost much. Right now, you can pay up to 50 dollars in a restaurant for sushi, showing that Sushi has turned into an exquisite dish over time.


Yes, this super expensive seafood was once considered cheap food. So cheap, in fact, it is believed to be as bad as eating a rat. In both European countries and North America, Lobster is considered a poverty food. All these are due to the ugliness of lobster and how hard it is to cook it, this only lasted till the 19thcentury, when lobster is being widely appreciated for its taste. Although some still avoid eating lobsters as it is a taboo food in some religion. Not the Chinese culture though, Chinese people eat all sorts of thing.

Can you imagine this exquisite food, lobster, was once considered as poverty food?

Now, lobster is extremely expensive and many only get to have them during banquets. Depends on the grade, one lobster can easily get into the hundreds of dollars range.


Oh no, even our favourite chocolate is getting more expensive? No more sweet love?

Yes, everyone’s favourite snacks and definitely many lady’s guilty pleasure. However, many did not notice that the price of chocolate has been increasing over the years. Although the increase is not significant enough to feel the pain, and many consume chocolate on an impulse basis. However, the increase in price is due to the demand has spiked over the years and still raising. Adding fuel to fire, some scientists speculate that chocolate may go extinct in the next few decades as climate change and high temperature made growing cocoa more difficult by the year. So, you might want to enjoy this fantastic snack before it disappears, or decrease your intake so you can have it longer, it’s your choice.


No honey, no biggie?

Another favourite and healthiest food on this list, also the victim of climate change. Honey is highly regarded as perfect food as it is a healthier option of sugar compared to refined sugar, high antioxidant content and it tastes really good. However, because of the decreased of habitat due to human activities and climate change, bees population are decreasing as we speak, lower numbers of bees also mean less honey being produced by them too and so, it increases the price of honey. Now a jar of honey can cost anywhere between $20 and $100, depends on the kind of honey you bought.

Bak Kut Teh

For many local Singaporeans and Malaysians, this dish is not a stranger to our daily meal. For the convenience of our foreign readers, Bak Kut Teh is a dish where a pork bone broth is served to you with pork ribs dibbed in the soup. Although its origin is unclear, it is somewhat accepted by many historians that this dish is popular since the 1920s (almost 100 years ago, yes, it is that old), served to the labour workers as a quick meal to replenish energy, a thick oolong tea was also served to clear the fattiness of the pork ribs.

One of the oldest dish in Singapore, Bak Kut Teh. (Credit to

We know Bak Kut Teh used to be served to the labour workers, and the workers don’t earn much during the early days of Singapore, so the price of one Bak Kut Teh is extremely cheap, adding the fact that pork ribs were deemed cheap food as well since it contains very little meat compared to other parts of a pig and it is fatty. Right now, you can find Bak Kut Teh costs between the prices of 6 dollars to 15 dollars per bowl, raising the bar higher and into the ranch of casual dining.

Treasure what you taste, think of what you eat.

Food and cuisine has changed over the years and definitely will continue to change, but we cannot deny the fact that many of us like to eat good food. Remember that every bite you sink your teeth into, rethink that some of those food used to be almost dirt cheap and now it costs a limb for various reason, you might feel something different on your taste bud.


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