I have a natural tendency toward the quantitative side of things. That, together with a substantial history of employment in the food service industry, has doomed me to forever over-analyze menu prices.
I recently realized that my local bagel shop has been charging me an outrageous premium for premium cream cheese. The cost of a bagel is 95 cents, and a bagel with cream cheese is $1.90; these are pretty standard prices around town.
But here’s the kicker: a bagel with scallion cream cheese at this place is $3.25. That’s an additional $1.35–not for the cream cheese, mind you, but for the upgrade of scallion cream cheese over plain cream cheese.
Scallions. Scallions are like onion weeds. I buy a bundle of ten of them for 40 cents, use three of them, and then toss the rest, probably because they’ve wilted within two days of purchase. They are expendable stalks at the bottom of the vegetable pyramid–savory and crisp, yes, but almost literally a dime-a-dozen. If anything, scallion cream cheese should be cheaper than plain cream cheese, because whatever volume of cream cheese is being replaced by the scallions is almost certainly more valuable than the scallions themselves.
The guys behind the counter seemed sympathetic to my argument, but they still charged me $3.25.