Burgerflation is a fiscal barometer that TikToker Austin Mutschler (@austinmutschler) has employed that helps folks gauge just how high fast food costs have gotten within a certain period of time.
The technique is a simple one: Individuals will know just how pricey a restaurant has gotten by comparing the value of the coupons they receive in mailers from the establishment. Mutschler highlighted this phenomenon by comparing two separate Jack in the Box coupon sheets. He displayed his findings in a viral TikTok that garnered over 92,000 views on the popular social media platform as well as hundreds of comments where folks shared their own ideas on this phenomenon.
The video begins with an appropriately title that simply says: “Burgerflation.”
Mutschler explains the phenomenon, which has also been discussed by ToastTab previously, by posing a question: “Is it just me or does anybody else judge inflation by coupon prices? I just got these Jack in the Box coupons in the mail. Two for $12 for an Extreme Sausage Sandwich.”
The TikToker shows off the mailer coupon on video, which indeed displays the all-day breakfast offering from the San Diego, California based fast food chain deal offering two of the sandwich combos, which comes with a coffee and hashbrown patty for $12.
@austinmutschler Whack in the Box #burgerflation #inflation #fyp #jackinthebox #costofliving #recession #coupons #money #burgergate ♬ original sound – Austin Mutschler
However, an older mailer reveals a much better deal for customers: The same exact combo was offered just months earlier for $5 less: “So I pulled out some old coupons from a few months ago, 2 for $7, $5 difference, three months.”
He then turned his attention to other offerings that used to cost way way less: “The homestyle ranch chicken club, $11 before, $13 after. This is getting insane.”
The United States Department of Agriculture reported that food is now “above historical-average rates,” adding that throughout 2023, food inflation is supposed to grow by 5.8%, with a variable range of 5.0-6.6%.
2022 saw some of the worst inflation America has ever been subjected to, hitting a 40-year high in June of 2022, piggybacking off of an upward trajectory trend that began in early 2021.
A number of social media users have been calling out various fast food chains for increases in item pricing, like one Chick-fil-A patron who expressed their shock at paying $14 for a breakfast from the popular chicken chain. Taco Bell, Wendy’s, KFC, and other popular franchises have all been lambasted for increasing the cost of their menu items.
TikTokers who responded to Mutschler’s post also expressed their own disbelief at the cost-hikes for some of their favorite menu items at their favorite fast food establishments. One individual said that they don’t even bother going to McDonald’s anymore because it ends up costing as much as eating out somewhere else that serves up what they believe superior quality fare: “There isn’t a point to going to McDonald’s anymore it costs me just as much to go to a better place.”
Another said the price increases have ultimately inspired them to cook and eat more of their meals at home: “More reasons why I cook at home now. Things are just becoming priced gouged”
One TikToker complained that even though Jack in the Box’s prices have gone up, they believe that the quality of the food has unfortunately gone down: “jacks prices have skyrocketed but quality plummeted so i stopped going”
Someone else wrote that they’ve committed to staying away from large-scale chains and now prefer frequenting local food establishments instead: “I’ve stopped eating at these national chains and opting to eat at local restaurants.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Jack in the Box via Twitter DM and Mutschler via TikTok comment for further information.