When shoppers felt burned by the high price of bacon

Consumers in 1973 experienced historically high inflation on food prices, and one week in particular, the price of bringing home the bacon was high enough to concern grocery shoppers across the country.

Cost of breakfast staple jumped in 'rip-off' price rise over a weekend August 1973

Paying more for the weekend's bacon had shoppers incensed in 1973 1:33

"It's not hard to work up a conversation today about the price of bacon," began CBC reporter Norman DePoe, as he stood in the meat section of a grocery store in early August 1973.

"The words I've heard most often ... are shocking, a scandal, disgraceful and that modern term, rip-off."

What they were so incensed by was "the steady mark-up of the price of bacon," which DePoe reported had jumped from $1.38 a pound on a Friday to $1.68 the following Monday.

'Could I get a refund tomorrow?'

DePoe asked David Bowen, the vice president of meat operations at Loblaws, what was behind the price climb.

Bowen agreed that the rise was unreasonable and not corporation-sanctioned, stating "there shouldn't have been any price advances on bacon or the likes of that on Saturday."

Bowen was a little less certain in his response, however, when DePoe asked what would have been a burning question for most consumers. 

"Suppose I bought some bacon ... at a marked up price.  Could I get a refund tomorrow?" said DePoe.

"It's a hard thing to control. I would like to tell you yes, if you had your sales slip with the register date ... that would be the only way that I know of," Bowen said.

'Weekend rip-off'

Food shoppers weighed purchases carefully, sometimes not buying anything if prices didn't suit. 1:49

DePoe reported that over at the competition, Dominion, the same "weekend rip-off" had occurred, and that he was told by both chains "it won't happen again."

"It's not bacon and beef alone though," DePoe said. "Look around the shelves of any of your stores. Check the price against against the price last week. You may be in for a surprise and a shock."

DePoe's report, which featured bacon, was one in a series he had filed that week on the steady, historic rise in food prices.

A cashier rings in packaged bacon for a Dominion store customer in 1973. (CBC News/CBC Archives)

The Globe and Mail reported on Sept. 27, 1973 that Statistics Canada estimated food price increases averaged 13.3 per cent from January to August of that year, and although the rise was expected to slow, prices were expected to continue to rise.

"There's a sense of anger and outrage among these people," DePoe summed up, adding that something had to be done.

"With Parliament in recess the question is what, and by whom and how soon."

A basket of grocery-store basics had risen steeply in price in 1973. (CBC News/CBC Archives)