Mental Floss

Tuesday Turnip

David K. Israel

It's time for another whimsical Tuesday Turnip search wherein I type a random phrase and we see what kind of interesting factoids "turn-up."

Today I typed in "the average American family" unearthing the following fascinating tidbits (as always, the _floss is not responsible for inaccuracies as what you have here is what was found, and some of it dates back to the late 1800s!):

In 2003, the average American family spent less than 50 percent of its budget on the four basic necessities of American life: housing, food, clothing, and health care. Of all the necessities of life there is probably but one that annually costs each household no more today than it did a century ago. The necessity is light. According to Dr Walton Clark, president of the Franklin Institute, the average American Family in 1815 used sperm-oil and tallow candles that cost $22 a year. This $22 purchased 25 candle-power-hours per night, or 9,000 candle-power hours per annum, from 1815 to 1855. Then came kerosene, which at that time was two-thirds as expensive per candle-power as tallow candles"¦ During the decade of 1865 to 1875 the tallow candle was completely displaced by the improved kerosene-lamp and illuminating gas; and the average annual cost for lighting each house was about $24. In 1901, when the average American spent $770 per year, (none of these figures are adjusted for inflation), 42.5% was allocated for food ($327). For comparison, if a worker today earning $50,000 allocated that much for food, he would be spending $21,250 for food per year"¦ In 2006, when the average American family spent $48,398, it spent 12.6% ($6,111) on food The average American family recycles 150 six packs of aluminum cans a year. The Iraq War has cost the average American family over $16000 since the war began Overall the average American, age 25 or older, made roughly $32,000 per year, does not have a college degree, has been, is, or will be married as well as divorced at least once during his or her lifetime, lives in his or her own home in a suburban setting and holds a white collar office job.

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