Unraveling Midtown’s Salad Pricing Conspiracy

by Lauren Rodrigue

In Midtown Manhattan, the streets are paved with Make Your Own Salad cafes. A delicious and affordable lunch option, you might think. Seven Different Iterations of Cubed Chicken, pile it on. All of the cheese, gimme. (Avoid the avocado, it’s priced like albino Russian sturgeon egg$.)

But in Midtown, no matter how big the “$7.00 for any toppings you want!” sign is, they always turn out to be at least $10. WHY, HOW. What am I doing wrong here? When I first moved to New York my higher-up coworkers asked me for my main impression of the big city. There was only one thing to say: “The salads! They’re like $10!” They did not understand why that was a Thing for me, but they were also not working for an entry-level hourly wage (which, by the way, came out to about three avocados per hour). I have been here one year, and the $10 salad continues to throw me for a loop. Midtown salads: Why so pricey? SOME THEORIES.

1. The salads’ proximity to such hallowed New York City landmarks as The Chrysler Building, The Empire State Building, and the Seizure-Inducing Toys’R’Us in Times Square. Is there a FUN TAX added to all consumables purchased here?

2. Tortilla strips!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

3. The price of the “GRAB 1 FREE THING OF THESE BAGEL CHIPS WE MAKE OUT OF STALE AND OVERCOOKED BAGELS” bin that sits beside the cash register must be built into the salad costs. There’s no way anything so nice as bagel chips could just be given away for free! Especially in NEW YORK, where all other variations of crunchy carbohydrate cost $3 or more!

4. One might argue that the health benefits of scarfing down a bowl of raw vegetables for lunch would be worth the high price tag. These benefits are negated by the part where the guy asks me what I want in my salad and I go, “Cheddar, Mozzerella, Eggs, Pasta, Fried Chicken, Ranch. Oh! And a donut! Yeah, man! Throw that donut in there! Tortilla strips.”

5. I literally don’t know. I don’t know why salads cost so much money! Does anyone know? People who don’t live in NYC? Salad costs? How are those in the midwest? The plains? What’s a salad going for in Seattle? I still have no idea where Ohio is on a map. How much for salads there?

6. Novelty tax for the memories of hangin’ with your study group in the student union during college where Make Your Own Salad bar was a daily ritual and you paid for it with fake money that came out of a card that your parents remotely refilled while loving you unfailingly.

Lauren Rodrigue lives in Brooklyn. PHOTO MONTAGE of WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD courtesy THE HAIRPIN.

Support The Billfold

The Billfold continues to exist thanks to support from our readers. Help us continue to do our work by making a monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time-only contribution through PayPal.