All I Want For Christmas, 1913 Edition

Officially, it’s Christmas time. Snow in the Center of the Universe? Check. Terrible ice storms? Check. Have I watched It’s A Wonderful Life yet? Check. Read the Twas the Night Before Christmas? Check. Seen massive displays of Christmas lights? Check. Read from the book of Matthew? Check. Listened to competing groups saying Christmas has become too commercialized or is too visible in schools? Check. Like always, controversy is in full bloom in Winter Wonderland.

Despite the distractions, it still feels like Christmas time. Magic does exist. Our kids possess it in droves. Between standing in line for Santa and decorating the tree, this time of year is meant for kids. I recently came across an ABC article on what kids ask for Christmas a hundred years ago compared to today. I won’t go into the methodology of how the writer pulled the two lists together or the content of the article. Here is what our kids and grandparents asked for at Christmas:


1. Candy

2. Nuts

3. Rocking horse

4. Doll

5. Mittens/gloves

6. Toy train

7. Oranges

8. Books

9. Handkerchiefs

10. Skates


1. Furby Boom

2. Teksta Robotic puppy

3. LeapPad Ultra

4. Flying Fairy

5. Bug Hugs Elmo

6. Barbie Dream house

7. Giggly Monkey

8. Nerf Gun

9. Ninja Turtles

10. Lego Pirate Ship

At first glance, these two lists highlight that times are different, at least in terms of want. That might be tough to argue. The cost of Furby Boom on Amazon retails for about $60.00. What candy is, of course, might be open to interpretation. Did kids ask for pounds of the stuff? Or, was it simpler than that? The cost of a Hershey bar in 1913 was about five cents. What is more interesting is that the cost of a Hershey bar remained the same until 1969 when it increased to ten cents, but you did get twice the candy bar when the price doubled for the first time in over 50 years. Energy and transportation costs probably influence the price as much as the cost of raw materials. Ironically, it’s not hard to see that the Hershey bar increased in price the most before and during the Carter administration. It’s also seen quite the run over the last ten years.

So, to get the equivalent run of the mill Hershey bar in 1913 it would take a dime. Personally, I wish I could travel back in time and get the 1913 Hershey bar. It probably tasted better. Now, the cost of that Furby Boom still outweighs the Hershey bar by an order of magnitude. However, a dollar today doesn’t go as far as it did in 1913. If you go to the government inflation calculator, a dollar in 1913 is now worth about $24. Mathematically, it would take about 23 or 24 Hershey bars to get a Furby Boom. I can tell you what I would rather have. It’s an easy one as Furby can drive a sane person to the brink. Perhaps, kids wants haven’t changed as much as we think.

Still, looking at the list I wonder what it was like to walk the streets in 1913. There is no way to get the feeling of an era anymore. Reading about it will only go so far. Movies are only someone else’s interpretation. Most scientists believe time travel is an impossibility, a fools errand. I wish I could in a way. The more I think about it I wonder what my grandmother wanted for Christmas when she was a little girl. I can’t ask her. I wish I had. Time doesn’t let us go back and ask the important questions. Perhaps, these two lists tell us more about Christmas than I first thought when reading the original article for the first time. We only have so much time. Spend it with those that matter.

And don’t forget, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”