Earlier today, I had a Snack Pack – you know, one of those little containers of pudding. It was part of a fajita bar at a Mexican restaurant not too far from where I work. My pal, Andy, and I reminisced about the days where Snack Packs were essentially liquid gold in cafeterias across the nation.
The discussion, as it is wont to do, turned into economics quickly, and I can say with absolute confidence that it had more impact on economic theory than anything Matt Yglesias of Slate will ever write.
Back in the day, according to Andy, a Snack Pack could go for as much as four slices of pepperoni pizza. I remember the popularity of the pudding and its value in the food trading circles. Andy and I both had the same thought, too – what would their value be in schools now?
Of course, we automatically take into account the actual economy, which is just awful, so naturally families will be buying fewer and fewer of these snacks, and if you have a kid lucky enough to go to a school that serves them in school lunches, think of the black market value when schools adopt healthy eating policies, those things disappear in a heartbeat.
Whereas they were, at most, those four slices of pizza or, at least, a cafeteria hamburger, the scarcity in schools now will cause a market revolution that will either lead to a free market of pudding exchange in schools (right now, a single pudding cup could be exchanged for $5 USD) or, more likely because these are children, pudding gangs.
Imagine it. Entire school mafias of pudding-peddling kids getting money (at the very least) and lots of it because the market has almost run dry. And this is tax-free, assuming they want cash. They could get entire homework projects done for them for these pudding cups. Four slices of pepperoni, Andy? These kids will be getting at least half a stuffed crust pizza.
The mafias grow and spread among the school system. Children taking tests for pudding lords because they asked for two cups to make it through the day. This will spiral out of control if we don’t keep an eye on it.
Toward the end of this conversation, we pay our ticket at the Mexican restaurant and wondered if perhaps we shouldn’t have had the tequila before going back to work.
EDIT: An acquaintance in Maine has verified that his high school has an underground Pepsi/Mountain Dew and doughnut market.