Bill Gates can’t guess grocery prices

Here’s Bill Gates being a good sport on Ellen DeGeneres’s show.

I’m a big fan of Bill Gates, as he’s giving away most of his fortune to improve the world, not the lot of his kids. So I’m not trying to make fun of him here—just showing how insulated really rich people are from how the rest of us live. In truth, I had no idea what a box of  Rice-A-Roni costs.  but I know it’s not $5. When you click on the video, you’ll be asked to watch on YouTube, which you can do by clicking on the underlined sentence.

I guessed $2.50 on the dental floss, but I order it in bulk from Amazon (this is the best one). I have no idea what pizza rolls cost; I’ve never had or bought one. But I do buy my own groceries!

52 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Holy … how did …

    I watched this Friday – don’t ask me why –

    I think it came up in Google News… for some reason…

    Small world I guess …

  2. ladyatheist
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    $3.78 for floss explains why so many poor people have missing teeth! (or don’t have them, as they’re missing)

    • rickflick
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

      What’s floss?

    • David Duncan
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:41 am | Permalink

      Maybe they have other priorities.

      I don’t use floss (I have fat, clumsy fingers that can’t really get in there) but find Pixters to be quite helpful.

  3. AlanC
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of the ’92 election, where the campaign was trying to show that GHW Bush was just a regular guy, e.g., pumping his own gas, etc. Kind of backfired when he was astonished by the “advance in technology” of the supermarket checkout scanner (and UPCs)…!

  4. AlanC
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of the ’92 election, where GHW Bush campaign tried to portray him as just a regular guy, e.g., pumping his own gas, etc. The idea kind of backfired when he was astonished at supermarket checkout scanners and UPCs on everything …!

    • rickflick
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

      Is there an echo in here? 😎

      • Zetopan
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 4:23 am | Permalink

        Yes yes.

  5. AlanC
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Oops, sorry about the double post

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    How much does the show earn from product placement? Loads I bet!

    We’d learn more about the wealthy if we tested them on generic staples that aren’t too heavily processed: Milk, breads, beef mince, dried kidney beans etc

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      “beef mince” — I’m guessing that’s Gaelic for ground meat? 🙂

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        It sure is – the “common language” that isn’t!
        “Ground beef” that isn’t ‘grinded’, but minced by blades
        “Paved roads” that aren’t paved, at all but Tarmacked or concreted or gravelled

        I love the differences, such as to grill in the US is usually direct heat from below whereas for us it’s direct heat from above.

        “I could care less” is a weird one though

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted February 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

          Yes! “I could care less” is just wrong!

          For us (NZ) a gravel road just has loose gravel on the surface. I didn’t know anyone thought that meant a proper surface.

          As for Tide Pods. Horrendously expensive! We don’t have that brand in NZ, but the ones I buy are normally NZ$14.99 or NZ$17.99 for 20, though I never buy them unless they’re on special for NZ$9.99, which they are quite regularly. (I’ve always still got some left when the next special comes around.)

          I thought most things in NZ were more expensive because we have to import so much.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted February 25, 2018 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, “to pave” seems to be a synonym for “to surface” in U.S. terms, that can be bitumen, concrete, stones, wood etc – just a little peculiar.

          • Helen Hollis
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:47 am | Permalink

            Tide Pods are 7.99 with a coupon in the paper for a 35 pk here in Chicago at a drugstore.
            I refuse to buy them because I think they pose a hazard to our waters and life in it.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

              I think that’s probably why the TidePod brand isn’t here. It isn’t allowed. We only have one brand of laundry pods available, and they only got here about three years ago. Most people don’t use them.

          • darrelle
            Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:57 am | Permalink

            That does sound like a lot to wash clothes. We have an HE (High Efficiency) front loading clothes washer and buy giant jugs of HE liquid detergent. It takes 1 to 2 tablespoons maximum to do a load of laundry. The big jug costs $15 – $18 US and lasts our family of 4 for at least 2 months.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

              Laundry pods are the most expensive way to do your laundry in NZ by far. I’ve always felt guilty about how much I spend on them, but they work well with my machine and I economize in other ways.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I would do poorly on any of this as well. I do not shop. I just say everything is over priced, particularly cars and houses.

  8. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I would be a bigger fan of Bill Gates if Microsoft hadn’t waged such a long and dirty war against all other operating systems, browsers, and software. He could have ordered his company to behave more ethically.

    That said, since he has made this huge pile of money, he does seem to be using it in beneficial ways.

    However, in the video, he was blatantly stealing ideas from the audience (or is that ‘responding to customer feedback’? 😉

    cr

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      Jerry’s a big fan of Gates only because he’s an Apple guy; he never had to deal with Windows 8 or Internet Explorer 6. 🙂

  9. Pliny the in Between
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    It’s ok. As a long-time Mac user I couldn’t tell you what Microsoft Office costs either.

  10. Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I know the price of everything but the value of nothing. I’m a cynic.

  11. Martin X
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I buy my own groceries, too, but I rarely look at prices. I have only a vague idea of how much a gallon of milk costs. (under $5 I think?)

    But I did notice the other day I paid $0.99 for Rice-a-Roni.

    • Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

      I thought it was more. I grew up loving Rice-a-Roni but haven’t had it in decades. Perhaps I wouldn’t like it now.

    • yazikus
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Milk is a great example! To the consternation of several dairymen I know, I choose to buy the ‘fancy’ milk. The kind that is slightly more than five dollars a gallon. The cheap milk runs around two dollars, I think. I rarely buy packaged pre-made food, so I would fail on all those examples. I did, however, have a brief stint as a ‘night-stocker’ at a national grocery chain when I was 18 or so and recall being surprised at how cheap things like Rice-a-Roni were.

    • yazikus
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Milk is a great example! To the consternation of several dairymen I know, I choose to buy the ‘fancy’ milk. The kind that is slightly more than five dollars a gallon. The cheap milk runs around two dollars, I think. I rarely buy packaged pre-made food, so I would fail on all those examples. I did, however, have a brief stint as a ‘night-stocker’ at a national grocery chain when I was 18 or so and recall being surprised at how cheap things like Rice-a-Roni were.

  12. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    The rich are different from you and me, boss.

  13. Posted February 25, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ve come to dislike this kind of thing after seeing it done in electoral campaigns, where rival candidates get grilled on whether they know the prices of various supermarket items, as though that means anything.

    Often the questions are ill-formed, like “price of a loaf of bread”. Whoever wrote that question revealed they don’t know how much variation there is among loaves of bread.

  14. Christopher
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I actually did worse than Gates in my guessing. I would have done better if they had included beer and frozen pizzas (I’m a bachelor, so that would be playing to my strengths) It’s nice he was game for this, which is essentially making fun of him for being fabulously wealthy. He’s a good sport, and I respect that, even if I am an Apple user.

  15. Christopher
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    Whoa, it just hit me what Prof. wrote…never had or bought pizza rolls…wow. They were a staple of my pre-teen years. Heat up some pizza rolls, grab some Dr. Pepper, pop Space Balls in the VHS, ah those were the days! What next? Are you gonna tell me you’ve never eaten the gastronomic delight that is Ritz crackers and Easy Cheese?! 😋 What, are my lower middle/working class childhood roots showing?

    I’m not saying they’re haut cuisine or anything but hey, as far a frozen “food” goes, you could do a lot worse! You should give them a shot, for shits and giggles, so long as you use an oven to cook them and not the microwave. Cheers!

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      The poor America student food economy is no longer the Ramen [sp?] noodle with packets of powdery chemicals of unknown provenance?

      • Christopher
        Posted February 25, 2018 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

        I hadn’t even heard of ramen noodles until I was 18 and my girlfriend showed them to me. I was so excited, I didn’t even know ramen was poor college kid food (granted, I also didn’t go to college until I was 27, but still very poor). I thought it was exotic city food! I’m not kidding. That’s how sheltered I was. Still, I had pizza rolls, frozen pot pies, TV dinners, and hot pockets, so it’s not like I was totally deprived, and thanks to Beavis and Butthead, I learned about crapuccino (the powdered kind at gas stations, of course!) gawd what a pathetic life I’ve lived!

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted February 25, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

          I bet Gates was a Ramen freaky nerd in his garage start up days & he turned out OK [mostly**]

          ** Ultra-competitive, unrelenting, smart, awkward, sarcastic, business cunning, merciless – but parlaying most of his wealth for social climbing kudos is a good that makes up for a lot

      • darrelle
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        One particular semester at university when things were especially tight I subsisted on a food budget of $8.75 per week. This was supplemented by food I got for free working at a supermarket. Certain types of damaged or out of date food would be slated for disposal, but I’d take it home instead. A 1 lb block of moldy cheese for example. Cut off the outsides and you have 3/4 of a pound of mold free cheese.

        Then there was the leftovers from the deli. You know, egg rolls that were really bad even when they were fresh and mediocre, at best, fried chicken that had been sitting under the heat lamps for 8 + hours.

        And ramen noodles figured prominently. Some X brand that instead of 5 for $1 were 8 for $1. And lets not forget the truly awesome store-brand hot dogs that were 2 packs for $1. Yes, 20 hot dogs for $1. I’ve found that very often in life you get what you pay for. Those hot dogs were a perfect example of that.

    • darrelle
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Time for my Ritz cracker story I guess.

      In high school I had Ritz crackers with peanut butter on them nearly every day with my lunch. One day sitting at a table in the school lunch room looking at a Ritz cracker with peanut butter on it sitting on the table in front of me, I just couldn’t do it. I’d just had enough.

      So I asked my friends if any of them would like some Ritz crackers with peanut butter. One of them (names redacted to protect the guilty) reached across the table, picked one up and carefully hefted it in his hand to gauge its weight and stability. He then flung it straight up into the air and scored a perfect hit on a florescent light fixture above us. It stuck perfectly onto the egg-crate lens of the light fixture.

      Much to our amusement that cracker was still there the day we graduated from high school.

      Even more amusing, during our 10 year HS reunion there was an event where we went and toured the old school one day. We went into the lunch room. Same tables, same lights. The cracker was gone, but the peanut butter that had cemented it in place for so long was still there, filling up several cubicles of the egg crate lens!

      • rickflick
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Good story. Having thoughts about returning for another check of the lens? We’ll wait.

  16. Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    I have no problem with Bill Gates not shopping and not knowing the price of things. Unlike Trump, he didn’t run for office based on knowing the wants and needs of the “little people”.

  17. EliHershkovitz
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Totally unfair fight. Five products from Whole Foods would have put Gates at a fairer advantage. Rice-a-Roni, pizza rolls, and TGIF victuals are as foreign to billionaires as arugula, truffles, and Beluga caviar are to the impoverished. Also, many educated people shun Tide Pods due to rising hazards between infants and teens. Finally, the frugal know that you can buy Reach floss for $1 a package in bulk on eBay.

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:49 am | Permalink

      What, if I may ask are teens doing with Tide pods? I know the risks to children that are somehow in proximity of them for whatever reason, but teens? What do they do with them?

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted February 26, 2018 at 6:50 am | Permalink

        From Wiki: THE TIDE POD CHALLENGE

        “The challenge is an Internet challenge in which an individual consumes Tide Pods. Teenagers were the reported demographic participating in the challenge; they would record themselves chewing and gagging on pods and then daring others to do the same. Some of these videos were posted on YouTube. Some teens cooked the pods prior to eating them.”

  18. rickflick
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    My wife does all the buying, but the products shown never enter our house. We seem to always purchase basic foods like brown rice, potatoes, fresh veggies, turkey, chicken, french bread, wine, dark chocolate and cheese. Most of those other things look like over processed, over advertised, garbage (I mean that in the nicest way possible).

  19. Jake Sevins
    Posted February 25, 2018 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    I somehow got 4 out of 5 within a dollar, despite not buying any of the things shown (I do buy floss, but it’s Glide floss and comes in Costco-quantities). I thought it was a ridiculous contest since the quantities were not given (that makes a huge difference!) with the exception of “it’s 8 oz” for the last one.

    Anyway, mindless entertainment, for the win!

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:54 am | Permalink

      I agree with your comment wholeheartedly. One needs amounts to make an educated comment on the price. Never mind packaging of two in one bundle. Pesky details. Who is to say what is the average size today? When it can be found in over three sizes, which size are we looking at?

  20. danstarfish
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    That really is the best floss. A few years ago they changed the brand name from Reach to Listerine and I spent so long searching for it before I found out they had renamed it.

    • Helen Hollis
      Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:51 am | Permalink

      Can still buy Reach floss and Listerine floss here in Chicago! Yes, at a drugstore.

  21. rasmo carenna
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    I always buy the groceries for the family and yet I don’t know the price of things. I am in the (admittedly privileged) position of not having to look at the price tag. If I want rice, I take a pack of rice. If I need some milk, I take a few bottles… Only when buying something new or out of the ordinary do I take a look at the price but other than this I just put in the basket what I want/need. I have a very good idea of what the whole ticket will be but never remember any individual item. So it’s not only rich people who can seem disconnected from reality.

  22. peepuk
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “I’m a big fan of Bill Gates, as he’s giving away most of his fortune …”

    And still the richest man in the world, that’s pretty amazing.

    • Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      I think, in fact, Jeff Bezos is richest now.

      He’s doping some interesting stuff with his money. (Although I guess, based on yesterday’s NBC editorial Jerry posted, all that stuff is just male posing and rapist-wannabe.)

  23. Posted February 27, 2018 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    Thta’s the same floss I use Jerry! I also use “floss-picks” and have little bags of them squirreled away everywhere I usually sit.

    Once I discovered those floss picks, I now have ~zero tolerance for having anything stuck in my teeth!


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