It’s no secret that food is expensive in Alaska, but it can be difficult to come up with a price point that everyone can relate to. Can we all agree that a $30 pizza is expensive? Perhaps, but some pizzas are definitely worth $30, while others are not. On a recent trip to Alaska on a Holland America Line Land+Sea Journey I looked for evidence of Alaska’s steep prices. To be sure, everything is expensive in Alaska, especially food, but it wasn’t until I reached Denali National Park that I found an example that sums up what people should expect when visiting. In Denali, Subway’s $5 footlong sandwich is priced at a staggering $9.
Subway is famous for the branding of its $5 footlong. The campaign originated in 2008 with a franchise owner in Miami who began to offer the special on weekends as a way to boost sales. The promotion was so effective that it spread quickly to other parts of Florida and then nationally. The promotion was successful for a number of reasons, including its use of round price points, its catchy jingle and, perhaps most importantly, that it coincided with what is sometimes referred to as the Great Recession.
Of course, the $5 footlong won’t last forever, and there already strong indications that Subway aims to either raise the price point to $6, offer the program on a seasonal basis or discontinue it entirely. Nonetheless, in September of 2013 there is no doubt that the going price for a footlong sub at Subway was either $5 or $6, consistently throughout the United States. If you follow this one example, you can surmise that your food in Alaska will probably cost you at least 50% more than at home. This reality is tempered just slightly when you take into account that Alaska does not have a sales tax.
Price is all relative, though, and some Americans may not see much difference at all when visiting Alaska. If you come from New York City or San Francisco you may not bat an eye at the price tag. If you are from Kentucky, you could have a major case of sticker shock. The best you can do is plan accordingly, and remember, this is your vacation! Don’t let a few dollars here and there ruin your experience. With a little extra planning, that $9 footlong won’t be such a shock. However, it goes without saying. when in Alaska you should skip Subway and go for fresh salmon and halibut instead.
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