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The picture has changed
The picture as currently shown isn't a pie, it's cheesecake. :)
I don't know how to fix that; could we have the old picture back? Not that I don't like the new one--but it doesn't illustrate the topic. --Minority Report 21:33, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I still think my idea of replacing it with a pic of Alyson Hannigan is best :-) .... Icundell 21:52, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
(all I see is http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/10/250px-Motherhood_and_apple_pie.jpg, which is some sort of soft porn... O_o, whilst the image itself (NOT the thumbnail) is back to normal thanks to Norm... so, is it just my browser-cache or what?) - this seems to have been resolved. someone care to explain to me, how the thumbnail system works?
I refreshed my browser cache and the purty ladies went away. Um, I change my mind. Can I have them back? --Minority Report 02:35, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The price of sugar
"Cane sugar imported from Egypt was not widely available in 14th century England (costing the equivalent of US$100 per kilo)."
Oh come on! I can buy that possibly sugar beet production wasn't common in the middle ages. I can buy that possibly cane sugar had to be imported to Western Europe from Egypt. What I find difficult to swallow is that it's possible to come up with a fourteenth century exchange rate for a currency that hadn't been invented yet! Could somebody explain this? --Minority Report 20:06, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
-  (and that sort of caluclation isn't all that difficult). Icundell 22:22, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I still don't see any justification for calculating the cost of a product in a non-existing currency. What value would a dollar, the currency of a non-existent nation, have had in 1400? What President's face would have been on it? By all means find the price in shillings pertaining at the time, but to claim that it is possible to set a dollar spot price for 1400 sugar is like pretending that the builders of the Acropolis were paid in pounds sterling. --Minority Report 23:01, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- I've just realised why you are getting confused. Hang on while I tweat the page. Icundell
- This sort of analysis is done all the time by historians and, especially, economic historians (I have done similar work myself). It is the only way in which meaningful comparison can be made between eras. It is absolutely legitimate and I have no reason to believe the cite is anything other than credible. It is adjusting for inflation not exchange rate. Then today's rate is used to give a $ price, the dollar being the pricing unit for most commodities. Icundell
There were no Europeans in America at the time. You wave your hands and mention inflation, but that is something that happens at differential rates within a society. Since there was no European-American society in 1400 and no US dollar there can have been no dollar inflation. It is thus impossible to adjust the current dollar back for inflation. Now these people whom you describe as "economic historians" may be accustomed to performing such calculations, but if they do so presumably they are able to provide you with a convincing justification other than that they've done it "all the time." Perhaps you'd like to summarise. Since the US Civil War had not been fought in 1400, would payment in Confederate dollars have been acceptable? --Minority Report 23:27, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- To take your last point first, we are expressing the price in today's terms, so of course Confederate Dollars are not acceptable. However it would be quite straightforward to express a Civil War confederate dollar price in terms of today's US Dollar.
- Second, we are not adjusting the current dollar back. We (or rather SKIL) are adjusting the historical price forward. Dollar inflation is irrelevant. English inflation is the issue - dollars are just a way of expressing the result.
- We know that in 1319 sugar cost two shillings per pound. Nominally that is 10pence (5p=1 shilling) - roughly 18c. There are 2.2 pounds to a kilo, so that's about 39.6c per kilo - and there you have it, a 1319 price expressed in dollars (or rather cents) AND in a weight measure that did not exist then either. Rocket science it ain't.
- To get the value, rather than just the price, you then have to research what the rate of inflation has been over the years. There are detailed records going back at least to the 1500s in the UK (because there were wars and wars have to be paid for) and scads of anecdotal evidence (inflation data for the US has been compiled from 1665 that I know of). Good old fashioned donkey work is all that is needed. You would have to ask SKIL about their detailed methodology, but I see nothing on their site to undermine confidence in their research.
- SKIL's US$100/ per kilo is around £24.50 per pound. The reason this is worth doing is because I can buy 1kilo of sugar in my local Tesco for 68 pence - about $1. So sugar was 100x more expensive in 1319 than it is today.
- If you want a decent primer on the strengths and limitations of historical price data I'd recommend Butlin & Dodgson's An Histircal Geography of England & Wales. It's 1978, but you can still get it on Amazon UK and it is discussive and non-technical. Icundell 00:46, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- This seems unnecessarily strained to me. Instead of expressing the cost of sugar in imaginary currency like inflation-adjusted 1319AD US (Federal) dollars, surely it would be easier and more understandable to express the cost of sugar in 1319 relative to, say, the cost of a loaf of 1319 bread in 1319 currency. The very fact that sugar does not now cost anything like $100 per pound should I think give anyone cause to reflect on the gross inaccuracies that your alternative approach is likely to induce--however fashionable it may be. If the cost of sugar can vary wildly over the years, so can the relative costs of the necessities of life. A gross headline inflation rate is usually valid in the short term because such transitions generally take place over decades rather than months. If someone tells me that a pounds of sugar would have cost me $100 in 1319, it tells me nothing unless I know how much it would have cost me to do the kinds of things that 1319 Europeans generally did, and the economic conditions under which they lived--whether they generally grew their own food, how much they needed money and how much they relied on barter, and so on. You can't reduce that to fictitious dollar amounts --Minority Report 12:16, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Looking for hard data, I find a reference to a work called "The history of sugar", which lists contemporary prices (shillings and pence) for white sugar in England from 1259 to 1593 (Table 2 in link below).
During the fourteenth century it rose from about 1s to about 2s per pound. Expensive, but no more so than the imported spices and raisins that were called for in the recipe. It seems that sugar was neither rare nor prohibitively expensive in fourteenth century England. Honey was several times cheaper and undoubtedly would have been included in the recipe if the cook had thought it necessary to sweeten the dish. I have quite often eaten apple pie made without added sugar and can vouch for its tastiness. --Minority Report 13:31, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- Please get out of the habit of belittling the points I am making as 'fashionable' It does you no credit. Converting prices to real terms is accepted practice and an essential part of making meaningful comparisons. Fashion does not come into it. For instance, Dixon's has just stopped selling VCRs. When they started selling them they cost £800. In today's terms thats the equivalent of £3,000, according to the radio this morning (I haven't checked the data, but have no reason to doubt it).
- Nobody is telling you that 2.2 pounds of sugar would have cost you $100 and there is no fictitious currency being used (it could just as easily be express in Yen). They are telling you it would have cost you the equivalent of $100 in today's terms. Of course full analysis will compare it with other goods, and wages - and that approach will teach us much about 14th century life (the data you post needs exactly the same: "Neither rare, nor prohibitively expensive" to whom?.
- But what this analysis does, straight away, is tell us that sugar was 100x more expensive then than now. Everything else follows from this, because this is the data that makes sugar interesting - not least because it explains why empires came to be built on the back of the sugar trade. It was known as 'white gold'.
- Apple tart anyone? Icundell 14:32, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
"Nobody is telling you that 2.2 pounds of sugar would have cost you $100 and there is no fictitious currency being used (it could just as easily be express in Yen). They are telling you it would have cost you the equivalent of $100 in today's terms." The crux is that there was no equivalent of the US dollar in the fourteenth century, whether Union or Confederate. Since the Civil War hadn't even been fought yet, the question of which of the two currencies to use for the comparison would have been impossible to answer, for a start. As for Yen, well I suppose it is possible that the Yen existed as a currency in foruteenth century, but that's a different question.
"Neither rare, nor prohibitively expensive" to whom?. To someone who could afford "gode Spycis" and "Safron", of course.
I'm not intentionally belittling anybody by recognising that comparisons expressed in non-existent currencies, though more reminiscent of fantasy roleplay than science, are fashionable; nevertheless I apologise for giving offence. This has nothing to do with the short-term comparison that you cite--there certainly is a good basis for an inflationary adjustment between 2004 and the late 1970s when Dixon's first stocked video recorders. But surely you must admit that seven centuries is something of a leap. --Minority Report 15:19, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
- When it was created, the US dollar was defined as 24.06g of pure silver. For most of its history, an English shilling was 1/20 of a troy pound of sterling silver (hence the name pound sterling for the British pound), or 18.66g. So, two silver shillings equal 1.55 silver US dollars of 1792. Because I am comparing coins 300 years apart, it would be more appropriate to find out how much a pound of sugar cost in England in 1792, to get an inflation adjustment from the 1400s to 1792, then do the transfer to silver dollars. Then you can use US inflation estimates to get a present value. More simply, though two shillings per pound means that sugar was worth 1/10th of its weight in silver. You can also go from there.
- Since we are interested in purchasing power parity here, you could research what the weekly wage of a labourer was at the time (probably quoted in pennies a week, this being England), and get an estimate of the value of sugar in that way.
- This stuff is not as meaningless as you make it sound, MR. — Miguel 00:23, 2004 Nov 23 (UTC)
I think you came pretty close when you suggested researching "what the weekly wage of a labourer was at the time." You might also like to find out what he spent his money on. The rest appears to be just pretty arithmetic with bits of precious metal. --Minority Report 02:43, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I would add that what the recipe tells me straight away--from the absence of any artificial sweetener, including honey which could be harvested by the poorest peasant--is that the people of the fourteenth century had not the same sweet tooth as their Tudor descendants. --Minority Report 15:30, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Read the article sugar beet. People did not consider its use in sugar production until nearly the 19th century, and it was only in that century that production actually became commonplace (in France and Germany due to war). As far as I am aware, Sugar Beet sugar only took over in the British Isles during World War II. We would probably not use sugar beet in Ireland now but for the fact that its production became essential to the farmers here (and it does grow really well), and so it became part of Western agricultural protectionism.
I've no idea when sugar beet started to be used in the US, but I don't believe it's as common there as cane sugar (beet sugar is near universal in Ireland by contrast).
Mind you, friends from abroad have told me they like the distinctive taste of the beet sugar, and certainly I am quite accustomed to it. (Cane sugar is nice IMO, but I wouldn't feel the need to switch!)
This is very interesting, but I think it's emerging that the question of added sugar is tangential to the subject of apple pies. People in the middle ages probably didn't want to sweeten an apple pie because it was already sweet enough for them. To speculate that early apple pie recipes contained no sugar because sugar was far too expensive (which it wasn't) or rare (which it wasn't) is not justified by the known facts. --Minority Report 16:27, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Apple Marketing Board of New York?
Does/did this thing exist, outside of Wikipedia or its spawn? As of today, New York seems to be served by the New York Apple Association, which doesn't mention a predecessor. Vermont and Connecticut have "Marketing Boards", but that seems about it.
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