Here's what a fast-food burger cost the year you were born

Toppings may change, but the basic ingredients of a hamburger – and more importantly, each fast-food giant’s special recipe – stay relatively constant over time. New menu items may come and go – but once a chain feels like the public loves a menu staple, they rarely change it.

Fast-food hamburgers seemingly haven’t changed over the last few decades, but their prices have. We rounded up the cost of several fast-food burgers the year you were born to see just how much has changed.


First, a note about relative burger sizes.

lizzardo/FlickrSome chains have differently sized patties.

INSIDER compared each chain’s most basic burger offerings to one another.

A McDonald’s hamburger in 1955 – when the company started – weighed 3.7 ounces, according to BuzzFeed.

The chain’s iconic Big Mac – which prompted the Economist to begin publishing its Big Mac Index as an international indicator of comparative individual purchasing power in 1986 – wasn’t introduced until 1967. The Quarter Pounder didn’t exist until 1971.

By contrast, Burger King’s Whopper has been around since 1957 – and the patty was a 1/4 lb. weight, according to Politico. There are 16 oz. in a pound, so to keep a level playing field, that’s 4 oz.

If you’ve never had one, White Castle burgers are also called sliders for several reasons – not the least of which is that they’re tiny.

Weighing in at just 1/8 lb. per patty, they’re about half the size of their competitors – but they have been around since 1921, and the chain is arguably the first fast-food chain in the US.

Like anything else, the prices for these competing products have varied by region since the beginning – so all prices below are approximate, and will vary based on your geographic location. And, some burger prices were not readily available. Keep in mind that Wendy’s didn’t join the competition until 1969 – but their single patties have always weighed 4 ounces.

Based on the sources available, here are approximate dollar amounts that fast-food burgers cost in the US the year you were born.


In 1960, your burger cost an average of just $US0.21.

Jim Boyle/NewsmakersA McDonald’s in 1955.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.15

Price atBurger King: $US0.37

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.12

$US0.21 in 1960 is equal to about $US1.81 in August 2018, according to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics Consumer Price Index inflation calculator.


In 1967, your burger cost an average of $US0.22.

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesMcDonald’s burger was slightly more than White Castle’s.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.15

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.14

Adjusted for inflation, the average $US0.22 burger would cost approximately $US1.69 in August 2018.


In 1969, your burger cost an average of $US0.16.

White Castle FacebookA White Castle location.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.18

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.14

A $US0.16 burger would be $US1.13 in August 2018.


In 1970, your burger cost an average of $US0.18.

White Castle FacebookAn older White Castle location.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.20

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.15

In inflated August 2018 prices, that $US0.18 average burger cost would equal $US1.20.


In 1971, your burger cost an average of $US0.30.

Ross Land/GettyA burger from Wendy’s.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.21

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.15

Price atWendy’s:$US0.55

If you were buying a comparable burger in August 2018, it would cost $US1.90.


In 1975, your burger cost an average of $US0.25.

Hulton ArchiveA Burger King location in 1976.

Price atMcDonald’s:$US.30

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.20

In August 2018, an average burger would cost $US1.21.


In 1978, your burger cost an average of $US0.64.

Drew Angerer/GettyA White Castle burger with fries.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.37

Price atBurger King: $US1.09

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.25

Price atWendy’s: $US0.85

The average price of $US0.64 translates to around $US2.58 in August 2018.

It’s worth noting that while White Castle sliders were roughly half the size of Whoppers at the time, you could get four of them for the same price as one Whopper.

In other words, with a little maths and good geographical luck, you could theoretically have gotten twice the burger bang for your buck with a handful of sliders.


In 1980, your burger cost an average of $US0.34.

Hulton Archive/GettyOne of the first few McDonald’s locations.

Price at

McDonald’s

: $US0.40

Price at

White Castle

: $US0.27

The average burger would be equivalent to $US1.10 in August 2018.


In 1982, your burger cost an average of $US0.70.

Tim Boyle/GettyPeople eating at Burger King.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.45

Price atBurger King: $US1.39

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.27

Simply adding the Whopper back into the mix raised the average to what would be equivalent to $US1.87 in August 2018.


In 1985, your burger cost an average of $US0.77.

Win McNamee/GettyWhite Castle burgers being prepared.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.50

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

Inflated to August 2018 prices, an average 1985 burger would cost $US1.84.


In 1986, your burger cost an average of $US0.77.

Joe Raedle/GettyBurger King’s burger was pricier than the one from McDonald’s.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.54

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

In inflated August 2018 prices, that same average burger would cost $US1.77


In 1987, your burger cost an average of $US0.64.

Joe Raedle/GettyMcDonald’s burger remains cheaper than Burger King’s.

Price atMcDonald’s:$US0.62

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.30

In inflated August 2018 prices, the average burger would cost $US1.45.


In 1990, your burger cost an average of $US0.71.

Price atMcDonald’s:$US0.75

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.38

In inflated August 2018 prices, the burger would cost $US1.41.


In 1994, your burger cost an average of $US0.91.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.83

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

If you were burger buying the average burger in August 2018, you’d pay $US1.57.


In 1995, your burger cost an average of $US0.74.

Price atMcDonald’s:$US0.85

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.38

If paying in August 2018, you’d need to fork over $US1.24 for an average burger.


In 2000, your burger cost an average of $US0.77.

Price atMcDonald’s:$US0.89

Price atBurger King: $US0.99

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.44

In inflated August 2018 prices, that $US0.77 average is equivalent to $US1.15.


In 2002, your burger cost an average of $US1.68.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.79

Price atBurger King: $US1.99

Price atWendy’s: $US2.25

In August 2018, the average $US1.68 burger is equivalent to $US2.39 after inflation.


In 2005, your burger cost an average of $US1.19.

Tim Boyle / StaffBurger King’s price raised.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.89

Price atBurger King: $US2.17

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.52

Of course, if you bought a Whopper, it would cost nearly twice as much as that average – or about four White Castle sliders. The average burger would cost $US1.57 with August 2018 inflation.


In 2006, your burger cost an average of $US0.94.

Photo by Ross Land/GettyWendy’s lowered the price of their burger.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.89

Price atWendy’s: $US0.99

Taking both the traditionally more expensive Whopper and the traditionally much cheaper White Castle slider out of the equation lowered the average, bringing the cost of a burger in August 2018 to $US1.20.


In 2008, your burger cost an average of $US0.71.

Junko Kimura/GettyMcDonald’s price was the same in 2005.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.89

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.53

A $US0.71 burger in 2008 would cost $US0.85 in August 2008.


In 2010, your burger cost an average of $US0.77.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US0.89

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.64

In inflated August 2018 prices, you’d pay $US0.90 for the $US0.77 average burger.


In 2012, your burger cost an average of $US2.61.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US1.00

Price at Burger King: $US3.15

Price atWendy’s: $US3.69

If you purchased the average burger in August 2018, you’d pay about $US2.90 for it.


In 2013, your burger cost an average of $US2.20.

Price atMcDonald’s: $US1.00

Price atBurger King: $US3.25

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.64

Price atWendy’s: $US3.89

In inflated August 2018 prices, the average burger would set you back $US2.41.


In 2018, your burger costs an average of $US2.64.

Price atMcDonald’s:$US1.09

Price atBurger King: $US4.29

Price atWhite Castle: $US0.75

Price atWendy’s:$US4.44

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