Utne Blogs > Politics

Staying Classy, Staying Cheap

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: Politics, recession, cheap, Science Daily, American Prospect, Fancy Fast Food,

White Castle Tapas

Image of White Castle Tapas, from Fancy Fast Food.

Penny pinching is in fashion in the current economic crisis. Many people simply can’t afford expensive food, clothing, and consumer goods anymore. The extravagance of 2006 seems gauche and out of touch today. Science Daily reports that economic pressures are forcing people to rethink their desperate need to differentiate themselves from others using expensive consumer goods.

Cheap is having a moment,” Noreen Malone writes in the American Prospect. Buzzwords like “recessionista” and “frugalista” have crept into American vocabularies and companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds are enjoying profits in the down economy. In reviewing the book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, Malone explores the ways “we’ve been seduced by low prices into forgetting our best interests.” Quality and durability are being sacrificed in favor of cheapness and convenience, often to the detriment of the environment and our own budgets.

Frugal extroverts don’t have to give up all the pleasures in life, though, just because people are cutting back on their budgets. In a hilarious piece in the latest issue of Utne Reader, Mark G. Hannah shows how people can entertain during the recession. His advice: Fake it. Cheap Smirnoff vodka can be poured into the expensive Grey Goose bottle. And Spam can replace the more expensive Virginia ham, with none of your guests the wiser.

To prove the point, the intrepid folks behind Fancy Fast Food give step-by-step instructions on turning White Castle, Taco Bell, and Dominoes into attractive, if not tasty, dinner party fare.

Sources: Science DailyAmerican ProspectFancy Fast Food