Author Topic: the $4 chocolate milk  (Read 3900 times)

cats

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the $4 chocolate milk
« on: July 04, 2019, 10:08:50 PM »
Today I took my son (age 3) to the local zoo, another family came with us.  I had packed snacks and lunch for son and myself, which I usually do when we go out for the morning (both because it's frugal and because who wants to be caught without food on them when their three-year-old decides it is time for lunch RIGHT NOW?).  Other family decided they would like to get their lunch from the zoo cafe.  Okay, no problem, we grab a table outside and they go and get their lunch.  They come back to the table and the other family's kid has a burger, fries, and a carton of chocolate milk.

My son is extremely interested in the chocolate milk and tells me "I want chocolate milk please".  I decided that since he was asking politely and eating an otherwise healthy lunch, chocolate milk would be a fun treat for our day out at the zoo.  I went inside the cafe to purchase said chocolate milk.  I anticipated that it would be somewhat spendy, but at the same time, it's a carton of chocolate milk, how bad can it be, right?

I go to the refrigerator case in the cafe and lo and behold, an 8 oz cartoon of chocolate milk (150 calories) is FOUR DOLLARS. FOUR.  DOLLARS.  HOW??? A fancy steamed milk with honey at the coffee place near us is less than that!

I bought it anyway, because I felt not to would be crossing the line from frugal to cheap.  But of course when we got home I had to do some research on these chocolate milk boxes and find out how much of a markup the zoo was doing.  Well, turns out you can buy a 12-pack of the same milk for about $12.  So the zoo is doing (at least) a 400% markup (perhaps more if they are getting a further wholesale discount). 

I always knew food at zoos, amusement parks, etc. was expensive but this level of markup just blows my mind. 

Next time we go to the zoo, I will be inviting friends who pack their own lunches also!
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 12:03:29 PM by cats »

slugline

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2019, 08:33:52 AM »
Food service to captive audiences are just another revenue stream. I learned this lesson  when I was a kid seeing a very familiar fast-food logo in the middle of an amusement park. I approached thinking from previous experience with this chain that I had plenty of money in my pocket to buy something there . . . but it turns out I didn't at that location!

cats

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2019, 09:28:28 AM »
Food service to captive audiences are just another revenue stream. I learned this lesson  when I was a kid seeing a very familiar fast-food logo in the middle of an amusement park. I approached thinking from previous experience with this chain that I had plenty of money in my pocket to buy something there . . . but it turns out I didn't at that location!

Oh absolutely!  We have been to this zoo before and while I had never visited the cafe, I knew from the prices posted at the various snack stations we had passed that it wasn't going to be cheap.  But I was thinking it would be something like $2 or $2.50.  They also had those squeeze pouches of fruit/veggie puree for little kids that were similarly priced.

There was a long line at the register so I had a chance to peruse the other offerings of the cafe while I was preparing to participate in my shameful act of consumption.  It was quite interesting (to me, anyway, as I can't remember when the last time I went into a zoo/museum type cafe, it was kind of like a museum exhibit of its own, "How Everyone Else Operates"). None of it was cheap, but these little kid-oriented items (milk, fruit pouches) were definitely the most extreme.  In comparison, a grilled chicken sandwich or burger from the grill was $11-$13 (fries or chips $2-3 extra).  We live in the Bay Area and something like a boxed salad from Mixt Greens is easily $12.  The cheapest sandwich place I know of near the office does a sandwich and chips combo for $7.50.  So getting lunch at the zoo if you just get an entree is comparable to lunch at a fast casual place in SF, maybe 2x the price if you normally seek out a budget lunch spot.  It's when you start to add in the extras that the price goes through the roof.  I would guess the other family that was with us spent about $50 for their lunch (2 adults and 1 child).

cats

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2019, 09:33:51 AM »
OMG.  My general astonishment about the prices at this zoo cafe compelled me to do some additional googling on their menu and I stumbled across a review mentioning that a fountain soda is $5.  Now I feel I got off lightly with my $4 chocolate milk :)

ysette9

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2019, 11:02:41 AM »
Now I want a chocolate soy milk. :)

mm1970

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2019, 11:20:51 AM »
Food service to captive audiences are just another revenue stream. I learned this lesson  when I was a kid seeing a very familiar fast-food logo in the middle of an amusement park. I approached thinking from previous experience with this chain that I had plenty of money in my pocket to buy something there . . . but it turns out I didn't at that location!
Yep, and sometimes you just roll it into the cost of the day.  It's a struggle, really, to train the kids.

For July 4, we decided to spend a few hours at our favorite beach.  Which is right next to a restaurant that the kids like.  I prepped everyone with "we are going for a few hours, we are not eating lunch out, I will pack snacks."  I prepped a day ahead.  It did not, however, prevent my teenager from badgering me to the point where my husband said "you have really crossed the line dude."  I don't know if he really thinks he can wear me down.  I attempt a combination of explanation and "shut up". I realize that a lot of parents go the old school "do it because I said so", but I'm unsure of the long term consequences of that. 

In any event, I figure the explanations will sink in eventually (he did recently say "$55 for a birthday cake??"  So I need to get him to roll that thought into burgers and fries.)

We are headed to a water park for a birthday event tomorrow.  No outside food allowed, so one reason for not allowing the burger yesterday is that they will be eating at the water park (I will just eat snacks before I go in - there's nothing I can really eat on their menu).

kimmarg

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2019, 07:03:34 PM »
I also got my three year old flavored milk as a special treat for a day out today and it cost $4... but that was for 16oz from the local dairy with a $1.50 bottle deposit!

Ann

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2019, 01:00:35 AM »
The mark up at places like zoos do not make me angry as long as they allow outside food and drink.  After all, then is is your choice.  $4 for a child’s carton of milk seems par for course. 

I hate it when you aren’t SUPPOSED to bring in food and drink for what is typically an all-day event while walking around in the sun. 

Khaetra

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2019, 04:30:55 AM »
Our zoo doesn't allow outside food and only one drink (water/coffee) per person.  When I go I eat either before or after due to them not having anything I can safely eat, but I always see very long lines at the food places.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2019, 06:53:04 AM »
Was at the zoo the other day, and a soda was the same price. Beers were $11, making me thnk, "how much of a loser are you that you can't wait to get home?"

cats

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2019, 07:28:01 AM »
The mark up at places like zoos do not make me angry as long as they allow outside food and drink.  After all, then is is your choice.  $4 for a child’s carton of milk seems par for course. 

I hate it when you aren’t SUPPOSED to bring in food and drink for what is typically an all-day event while walking around in the sun.

Good point. I think if our zoo did not allow outside food we just wouldn’t go, I guess they figure there are enough people like us out there that it’s not worth their while adopting this policy.

My husband did point out to me that he thinks nothing of paying $4+ for a fancy coffee on the handful of times per year he gets a craving for one (and I don’t find it horrifying) so in that context, no $4 is not that unreasonable, I suppose, as long as you have the habits/discipline in place to keep it an occasional treat rather than a regular one. Just the first time it has come up in the context of our kid!

Interestingly, my kid has recounted many things about his zoo visit but has not mentioned the chocolate milk. So hopefully we’ll avoid it next time and it won’t become a habit :) I’m going to be more thoughtful about who I invite to join us also, as in retrospect I should have known these guests were going to drop $$$ on something that would pique my son’s interest!

Linea_Norway

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2019, 08:43:15 AM »
Your kid will start to understand it by the time he receives pocket money. He might find out that he will get more bang for the buck at the grocery store than at the zoo. This might be a good argument for given kids pocket money when they are ripe for it.

MilesTeg

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2019, 10:13:07 AM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Channel-Z

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2019, 11:50:56 AM »
It's also a big reason why sports teams struggle to maintain attendance. A family is already facing $100-$200 for tickets and parking, not allowed to bring in outside food, then finding a bag of peanuts costs $6. At least the water fountains aren't coin-operated... yet.

By the way, I think our professional sports teams and our zoo use the same food service vendor.

OtherJen

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2019, 12:07:59 PM »
It's also a big reason why sports teams struggle to maintain attendance. A family is already facing $100-$200 for tickets and parking, not allowed to bring in outside food, then finding a bag of peanuts costs $6. At least the water fountains aren't coin-operated... yet.

By the way, I think our professional sports teams and our zoo use the same food service vendor.

The cheapest pro sports tickets in my area are for Detroit Tigers games. Ironically, their ballpark is the only one of the local big sports arenas that allows outside food within reason, like a personal lunch bag or pack of peanuts from a street vendor (not a big cooler) and sealed water or kids' juice boxes.

Once you start adding stadium food/drink prices, yeah, the costs become ridiculous. I think that's why we only ever went to Tigers games when I was little. We always bought peanuts from street vendors outside, and maybe a cold drink in the park. I've never been to a NBA or NFL game, and only a Red Wings game when a friend got free tickets.

A Fella from Stella

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2019, 01:22:28 PM »
It's also a big reason why sports teams struggle to maintain attendance. A family is already facing $100-$200 for tickets and parking, not allowed to bring in outside food, then finding a bag of peanuts costs $6. At least the water fountains aren't coin-operated... yet.

By the way, I think our professional sports teams and our zoo use the same food service vendor.

True. I got free tickets to a game, and let my kids bring friends. In the VIP section there was a buffet where they could watch the game on CCTV, so I gave me them debit card and let them have at it, figuring that with $6 hot dogs, why not just pig out. For the 6 kids at the buffet it was $121. But they were there for 7 innings and all came out with to-go containers of chicken wings, burgers, etc.

PDXTabs

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2019, 01:27:02 PM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Yup, my local zoo is a non-profit, and they struggle to pay for everything, so I don't really mind. But I don't buy food there.

cats

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2019, 04:12:59 PM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Yup, my local zoo is a non-profit, and they struggle to pay for everything, so I don't really mind. But I don't buy food there.

Fair enough.  I suppose I would rather spend $4 on chocolate milk at the zoo than the movies.  And now I should go thank the family we went with for subsidizing our visit with their expensive lunch, rather than quietly fuming about how going with them meant I got pressured to buy the milk :)

OurFirstFire

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2019, 07:01:24 PM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Our middling zoo is $21/person, including 3 year olds.  Overall much better to watch a beautifully shot nature show of animals that aren't being kept in cages for human enjoyment and then go to a park.

MilesTeg

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2019, 11:06:17 AM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Our middling zoo is $21/person, including 3 year olds.  Overall much better to watch a beautifully shot nature show of animals that aren't being kept in cages for human enjoyment and then go to a park.

I understand the sentiment re: captive animals. However, you're missing the point. This revenue model exists in many, many places. Theatres, amusement parks, concerts, sports venues, etc. Complaining about having your entertainment subsidized by people willingly buying high priced concessions is not good "anti-mustacian hall of shame" material, it's looking a gift horse in the mouth. Even in places, like theaters, that don't allow outside food/drink you're still getting a much cheaper entrance fee than you would otherwise to support that venue and you aren't being forced to buy them (you just have to do without in those cases).

So don't complain: see it for the benefit that it is.

FIRE47

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2019, 01:44:49 PM »
A lot of these places are on a shoestring budget and the staff are generally underpaid and doing it out of passion, also backed by a number of volunteers. The food prices are one area that helps keep the lights on. Stop complaining cheapskate. They need the margin on that milk because they are probably losing money on many other parts of the operation.

mm1970

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2019, 02:50:40 PM »
It's also a big reason why sports teams struggle to maintain attendance. A family is already facing $100-$200 for tickets and parking, not allowed to bring in outside food, then finding a bag of peanuts costs $6. At least the water fountains aren't coin-operated... yet.

By the way, I think our professional sports teams and our zoo use the same food service vendor.
The water park we were at on Saturday...water fountain didn't work!!  Luckily, I found one that did work on the other side of the park.  But, really? 

OurFirstFire

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2019, 06:11:11 PM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Our middling zoo is $21/person, including 3 year olds.  Overall much better to watch a beautifully shot nature show of animals that aren't being kept in cages for human enjoyment and then go to a park.

I understand the sentiment re: captive animals. However, you're missing the point. This revenue model exists in many, many places. Theatres, amusement parks, concerts, sports venues, etc. Complaining about having your entertainment subsidized by people willingly buying high priced concessions is not good "anti-mustacian hall of shame" material, it's looking a gift horse in the mouth. Even in places, like theaters, that don't allow outside food/drink you're still getting a much cheaper entrance fee than you would otherwise to support that venue and you aren't being forced to buy them (you just have to do without in those cases).

So don't complain: see it for the benefit that it is.

Heh, we may both be really replying to OP rather than each other.  My point is that zoos are not a feel-good institution to support, and many aren't affordable either.  But yes to the degree concessions subsidize ticket prices it's a win for mustachians!

Just Joe

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #23 on: July 10, 2019, 09:34:21 AM »
Your kid will start to understand it by the time he receives pocket money. He might find out that he will get more bang for the buck at the grocery store than at the zoo. This might be a good argument for given kids pocket money when they are ripe for it.

That's how we taught the topic when our kids were younger. You can get get a $5 ice cream at the shop or a half gallon at the grocery store. We still visit a local Mom 'n Pop shop a couple times per year but it is more of a special event b/c the family understands the opportunity cost compared to the grocery store. DW and I don't make a big deal out of the cost b/c it is a rare treat.

cats

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #24 on: July 10, 2019, 09:49:12 AM »
Don't complain too much, overpriced food is what makes it affordable (or perhaps less expensive) to buy an entrance ticket.

Our middling zoo is $21/person, including 3 year olds.  Overall much better to watch a beautifully shot nature show of animals that aren't being kept in cages for human enjoyment and then go to a park.

I understand the sentiment re: captive animals. However, you're missing the point. This revenue model exists in many, many places. Theatres, amusement parks, concerts, sports venues, etc. Complaining about having your entertainment subsidized by people willingly buying high priced concessions is not good "anti-mustacian hall of shame" material, it's looking a gift horse in the mouth. Even in places, like theaters, that don't allow outside food/drink you're still getting a much cheaper entrance fee than you would otherwise to support that venue and you aren't being forced to buy them (you just have to do without in those cases).

So don't complain: see it for the benefit that it is.

Heh, we may both be really replying to OP rather than each other.  My point is that zoos are not a feel-good institution to support, and many aren't affordable either.  But yes to the degree concessions subsidize ticket prices it's a win for mustachians!

I have mixed feelings about zoos. I used to feel very much that it was “animals in cages”, but...many of the animals at our zoo are “rescues” (I.e. they were in a circus) who wouldn’t do well if they were reintroduced in the wild. The zoo also does a lot of work with preserving a local endangered species and that animal is actually able to come in and out of the zoo habitat and the wild. I don’t know if that is the case for every animal at the zoo though and certainly zoos as a whole still give me some pause.

kanga1622

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #25 on: July 10, 2019, 10:02:55 AM »
We pack food for the youngest and myself pretty much everywhere we go as we can't reliably find food that doesn't make us sick at cafe type places. DH and the oldest will often order lunch. We count that as part of our budget and try to enjoy the day. I don't love paying $4.50 each for my kids to have ice cream in the afternoon when we visit the zoo but when it happens a couple times a year, we just roll with it. And none of us want to carry around lunch for 4 with 2 on special diets all morning while we walk around at any event. To me it feels like travel - won't do it all the time but choose to splurge occasionally to keep everyone happy.

We are clear with our kids before we go somewhere what will be allowed. I don't waiver - it I said we weren't getting a snack when we are in Target, then we aren't. :) The kids have learned to carry their water bottles and refill from a fountain.

DeniseNJ

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #26 on: July 10, 2019, 12:26:09 PM »
I went to the NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx a few weeks ago.  A bottle of water or iced tea at the fast food cafe place was $4.50.  Took my breath away, and my thirst, away.  I can get 48 bottles at Aldi for that amount.  That's after paying $28 per person for what's essentailly a park with some pretty flowers.  I mean I do get it, but still.  We ended up eating at the fancy restaurant instead--I'd rather overpay for real food at a fancy restaurant once in a rare while than for overpriced crap burgers and fries.  And the water was free.

(The people who live in that crap town can't even afford to go to the one nice park they have.)

Debonair

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2019, 09:18:10 AM »
I went to the NY Botanical Gardens in the Bronx a few weeks ago.  A bottle of water or iced tea at the fast food cafe place was $4.50.  Took my breath away, and my thirst, away.  I can get 48 bottles at Aldi for that amount.  That's after paying $28 per person for what's essentailly a park with some pretty flowers.  I mean I do get it, but still.  We ended up eating at the fancy restaurant instead--I'd rather overpay for real food at a fancy restaurant once in a rare while than for overpriced crap burgers and fries.  And the water was free.

(The people who live in that crap town can't even afford to go to the one nice park they have.)

I use to live in that neighborhood. We snuck in or went in Wednesday's when it was free for us.

flipboard

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Re: the $4 chocolate milk
« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2019, 11:40:03 AM »
A lot of these places are on a shoestring budget and the staff are generally underpaid and doing it out of passion, also backed by a number of volunteers. The food prices are one area that helps keep the lights on. Stop complaining cheapskate. They need the margin on that milk because they are probably losing money on many other parts of the operation.
That - and also the margin is nowhere near as big as the difference between in-zoo and in-store costs. There are transport/distribution costs (smaller volume at the zoo), storage costs, staff costs, cleaning costs, etc. Labour costs money, and cafes/restaurants are inevitably more labour intensive.