10 Cheap Foods That Used to Be Expensive

Due to agricultural advancements, global trade, and changing consumer preferences, many foods that we consider everyday items were once luxury goods for the privileged few. Let’s explore 15 cheap foods that used to be expensive and how they became widely available.


Coffee was once considered a luxury drink exclusive to the elites in Europe and the Middle East. It wasn’t until the 18th century that coffee became more affordable and accessible due to mass production and trade with African and Asian colonies. Today, coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide.


Sugar, once imported at great expense from tropical regions, became more affordable with the advent of slave labor in the 18th century and advancements in sugar production. Today, it remains a staple ingredient in many households.


Chocolate was only available to the wealthy due to its labor-intensive production process and expensive ingredients like cocoa beans and sugar. However, with technological advancements and mass production, chocolate became more affordable and accessible.


Cinnamon was once a luxury spice, used sparingly in cooking and reserved for the wealthy. It was sourced from Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia, making it expensive due to transportation costs. Cinnamon is widely available today and used in various cuisines.


Pineapples were once rare, and it cost a lot to transport them. Since they were imported from tropical regions, they were a luxury food item. Today, they are widely available and grown in many countries and are much more affordable.

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In ancient times, cloves were highly prized and valued even more than gold. Their scarcity and remarkable medicinal properties made them a coveted commodity. As time progressed, the availability of cloves expanded, and they became a widely used spice cherished for their distinct flavor and aromatic qualities in various culinary traditions.


Pistachios were once a delicacy in ancient Rome and Greece. In the 19th century, they became more affordable. Today, they are a popular snack and are used in various dishes. They are cultivated in many countries, making them more accessible and affordable.


Nutmeg was once a highly sought-after spice in the Middle Ages, valued for its medicinal properties and used as currency. Its trade monopoly by the Dutch East India Company led to high prices, but with increased cultivation and production in other parts of the world, nutmeg became more affordable.


Ice was once a luxury item, sourced from frozen lakes and rivers in the winter and stored in icehouses for use during warmer months. The invention of refrigeration technology made ice more accessible, leading to its widespread use today.

Olive Oil

Olive oil was an expensive item in ancient Greece and Rome used mainly for medicinal purposes and reserved for the wealthy. With advancements in olive cultivation and extraction methods, it became more affordable and a common cooking ingredient.

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