Thought inflation was already pretty bad? It’s actually worse than that. Much, much worse…
(by Half Dollar) I’m a World Class Master Pizza Baker, and I don’t say that to brag, for I would never do that, much less would I ever boast, but I say that to establish my expertise.
Of course, I did in fact invent stuffed-crust pizza in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and if given the choice of only being able to eat one single food for the rest of my life, well, heck yeah it would be pizza, so I am kind of biased like that too.
Nonetheless, one of the economic field tests that I regularly conduct on Main Street involves assessing any given pizzeria’s quality and value by simply ordering a “Large Pepperoni Pizza”, and let me tell you right off the bat that if I’m not counting at least 3 slices of pepperoni per slice of pizza, that’s an automatic fail.
Regardless, since I am a cheapskate, I really enjoy Little Caesars $5 pizza, and I’ve been eating that brand for so long, that I remember the time when it was “Pizza, Pizza”, meaning, you always got “two awesome pizzas for one low price”, or however the marketing hype went, and the pizza “box” was super weird in that it was really long so that it could hold both pizzas in the same box, with a divider in the middle, and the box was also weird in that it had a paper top that you ripped open instead of a cardboard top that you lifted up.
Over the years, I’ve been waiting for the price to go up on the “Large Pepperoni” pizza, which could also be the “Large Cheese” pizza, for either large pizza costs the same, which Little Caesars calls the “Classic” and not the “Large” per se, but generally speaking, the size of the “Classic” is in fact the universally accepted, industry-wide benchmark for the “Large” pizza.
So I keep on waiting for the price to go up from $5, and while the employees do their very best to up-sell you and get you to pile on a bunch of overpriced toppings, like feta cheese, or anchovies, or banana peppers, and while the employees do their very best to flat out steer you away from the Classic Pepperoni Pizza in order to push you into one of the more expensive offerings, like the Extra Greasy Pizza, or the Super Loaded Pizza, and while the cuter employees wink at you and try to get you to upgrade your order, like with some breadsticks, or maybe even an order of chicken wings, and while the price has gone up on everything else for sale at Little Caesars over the years, including said breadsticks, said wings, and soft drinks, and sauces, and so on, and so forth, well, I’m still waiting.
I’ve been waiting to see the price inflation, but I just haven’t seen it yet.
Sounds familiar, right?
Indeed, the cost for a Large Cheese or a Large Pepperoni has been $5 for as long as I can remember, and since my memory is blown, that’s probably a really long time, but it wasn’t until ordering pizza just last night when it finally hit me: The price may still be $5, nominally, but in reality, the pizza costs so much more than that.
Much, much more.
Allow me to explain.
First and foremost, I love perks, and Little Caesars always had plenty of freebies and extras to go along with their pizzas, with the key phrase being “always had”.
That is to say, for the longest time, along with the $5 pizza, Little Caesars would handout paper plates, crushed red pepper packets, parmesan cheese packets, plenty of napkins and even snack-sized packs of shortbread cookies baked in the shapes of little triangular pizza slices and fat cartoonish Julius Caesar heads.
As a general rule of thumb, I would ask for six packs of cookies for every two large pizzas, for ahh, the umm, err, uhh, for the kids.
But I digress.
They stopped giving away the paper plates, and they stopped giving away the parmesan cheese, and it was a total bummer when they did those things, but it only worsened from there as the free packs of cookies were getting harder and harder to come by, no matter where I happened to be in the United States, and over the last year especially, the year the whole, you know, Zombie Apocalypse thing began, I never see the cookies at all anymore, and don’t even get me started on the napkins!
Like, I ordered two large pizzas, and I’m handed four stinkin’ napkins?
And it’s not like you can even grab the napkins from the counter on your own anymore, because the napkins are no longer loaded into dispensers and placed on top of the counter, for now, you’ve got to ask for the napkins, only, it’s not really like asking, but rather, it’s more like getting on your knees and begging for napkins while singing the employees’ praises because the few employees inside of Little Caesars are always covered in dust, they’re always sweaty and sorta smelly, albeit semi-obfuscated by the pungency of a dozen or so pizzas baking in the oven, with the exception of the cute, winking ones, of course, for they generally smell pretty good in an “I put on way too much perfume” kind of way, which isn’t really all that bad, but the other employees always have a bad look on their faces, as if the employees are constantly high-strung and working under a ton of pressure & stress, so in my experience, to get more than just a few napkins, the best tactic is to “kill ’em with kindness” as opposed to taking Karen’s approach.
Sometimes I wonder why I even open the door for her?
But there I go again with the you-know-what.
Here’s the point: It used to be that when you ordered a pizza, you got so much more, stuff that quite frankly, a lot of people enjoy with their pizzas, but now, you pretty much just get the pizza.
But wait, there’s more!
That’s right folks, because they don’t call it “shrinkflation” for nothin’, you know!
You see, the “large” pizza is supposed to be fourteen inches round, but I think the next time I order I’m busting out the tape measure because I’ve got this sneaky suspicion they never stretch the dough out that far anymore, and at the risk of another digression, I’d also add that putting a smaller pizza into a larger box can, and does, have catastrophic consequences resulting from the drive home, so unless you like scraping cheese and topping off of the inside of the box’s lid, don’t drive it like you stole it, but rather, drive it like grandma.
Making matters worse, not only is the pizza not stretched out to fill up the entire box anymore, but now, it seems the employees are using less dough per pizza, dough that’s made with lower quality ingredients, I might add, the employees are using less tomato sauce, they’re using less cheese, and they’re using less, yup, you guessed it, pepperoni!
It’s a dang conspiracy!
But wait, there’s more, again!
That’s right folks, again, because Little Caesars is now offering delivery, and they’ve totally embraced the whole concept of “junk fees”:
Imagine living in a state where tax is applied!
The “small order fee” is simple in that you have a minimum order for delivery, although we can’t really blame Little Caesars for milking the customer whenever possible, but a “service fee” that is separate from a “delivery fee”?
That really is some sort of sick-n-twisted legalized racket, especially as the service fee is not a fixed price, but instead is based off of the order cost, so if you order more pizzas, that fee goes up!
So sure, the pizza still costs five bucks, but you’re getting so much less pizza in terms of total weight, and now, instead of raising the price of the pizza, junk fees are just slapped on whenever and wherever possible.
And I’m not just picking on Little Caesars: It’s all of them.
For example, Domino’s is just as bad, and while Domino’s only has one fee, for now, a “delivery fee”, I’m pretty sure that fee charged is higher every single time I order from Domino’s, and I think that right now that fee is pushing $3.99, if not higher.
Remember: Back in the day, and it wasn’t even all that long ago, really, pretty much every single pizzeria across America had “free delivery”.
And before anybody asks, yes, I tip, and I tip arguably well: I generally round the change to the next whole number and add three dollars for the tip, and all things considered, including the fact that I only live a few miles from any given pizzeria, I think that’s fair.
Here’s the point: Right now, inflation is ravaging the nation in so many ways, and increasingly, pretty much all industries are taking the airline industry approach to things and just adding on fee after fee after fee after fee, leaving the base price in-tact but adding on a ton of stuff which really adds to the total, final price.
The Fed & the Federal Government’s Apologists, Armchair Quarterbacks, Deflationists, Experts, Propagandists, Pundits & Shills all say there is no inflation, for the pizza still costs five bucks, but really, the people who say that are just as well sucker punching you in the gut and spitting in your face.
Here’s the question: If the purchase of a pizza no longer includes any of the freebies, like crushed red pepper or napkins, if the price of everything else in the pizzeria has risen massively, such as the price of soda or wings, if the actual pizza itself has already been skimped down to as small and as lightweight as it can be and still pass as a “large” pizza, and if the pizzeria is adding on all sorts of junk fees which add to the total cost of the pizza, are we not at the point where there is nothing else which can be done to offset the inflationary forces, with the sole exception of good old-fashioned price hikes?
Here’s some food for thought: What happens when every single company in America is no longer including that which used to be included with their products, when every single company in America has already cut costs right down to the bone, when every single company in America is already loading up customers with myriad junk fees, and when there is nothing else which can be done to offset these inflationary forces?
If you answered, “prices in all industries all across America are going up, up, and up again”, well now, you’ve just won yourself a cookie.
Only, not a Little Caesars cookie.
Those are nowhere to be found.
Shameless Plug Time: I wrote an article this week over at the best online gold & silver bullion dealer’s website called, “Which Came First, The Inflation Or The Shortages”, and now would be a good time to read that article if you have not done so already.
So, here’s the 64,000 dollar question: Is this “transitory” inflation?
Transiting into the hyperinflationary crack-up boom, that is.
That is a pretty weak “crash” in the stock market:
Are the training wheels ever coming off?
It’s starting to look like no, they’re not:
That song “she might let you sing, but she won’t let you fly” seems appropriate here.
OK, “Hey Half Dollar, that’s not the song you big dufus!”.
Oh yeah, well that’s not a free market you big nitpicker:
That’s called “killing elderly American savers and enslaving America’s youth, by way of official policy”.
Speaking of policy:
There hasn’t been much talk lately about a “strong dollar policy” or a “weak dollar policy”.
Not that such chatter really matters anymore:
Copper is telling us it doesn’t matter what the policy is, because the Era of Hyperinflation is here.
It’s amazing there’s no “fear premium” being priced-in to oil with all of the chaos in the Middle East:
Said differently, and I’ll ask it as a question: If they’re not using the chaos in the Middle East as cover to boost crude oil prices, are they possibly getting ready to crash the markets again?
Regardless, something needs to happen sooner or later so we can close this gap:
That’s another week, and nary any progress.
Of course, I keep telling people silver’s rise isn’t going to happen like most people think it will happen:
In fact, of all of the things in the entire world, the Cartel will let go of silver last.
Coming in the Cartel’s second place would be platinum:
Deeper pocketed-investors, as well as willing and able Silver Bugs, Stackers and other Smart Investors, may want to take note, especially if one is diversifying that portfolio.
That said, the Cartel might just put the precious metals on sale after all:
Assuming, of course, their dollar store paint-by-numbers charts matter.
Thanks for reading.
Paul “Half Dollar” Eberhart