In the classic 1990 Christmas movie "Home Alone," a humorous scene shows the young and mischievous Kevin McCallister, portrayed by actor Macaulay Culkin, shopping at a grocery store by himself. After all, his family had accidentally left him behind, and someone needed to stock up on staples for the house such as milk, bread and laundry detergent.
In the grocery store scene, McCallister hands a $20 bill to Sally, the clerk, who was played by Tracy J. Connor, to pay the total of $19.83. That total includes what appears to be a $1 off coupon for Tropicana orange juice.
What would a similar grocery store order cost in the U.S. in 2023, at a time when, in recent years, soaring inflation had been in the news? It's time to revisit the question TikTok user @mathawae posed at the end of 2022. According to @mathewae's video, the subtotal for the same items purchased at Walmart in December 2022 would come to $39.35. The total, if shipped, would be $51.34, the video claimed.
However, the shipping throws the price off a bit, so we decided to double-check all of the prices and create our own Walmart order as if we were shopping inside a store. Our calculations eventually showed a higher total.
According to the scene in "Home Alone," McCallister purchases Wonder bread in the 20-ounce size, a container of Tropicana orange juice, a gallon of milk, a frozen Stouffer's turkey dinner, Tide laundry detergent, Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil, Snuggle fabric softener, Quilted Northern toilet paper in a four-pack, a 12-ounce frozen Kraft macaroni and cheese dinner and a package of army men toys.
As of this writing, it's been 33 years since the movie was released, so some brands no longer offer the same products, or only offer different sizes and varieties. Still, we looked for the closest possible matches.
We were unable to find a Kraft macaroni and cheese frozen dinner, so we opted for the Stouffer's brand with their 12-ounce frozen offering. Additionally, the most inexpensive small container of army men toys looked to be $5.44, plus tax.
There's also one important thing to note about the Quilted Northern toilet paper. Walmart did not show a four-pack being available in 2023, so we chose a six-pack. McCallister apparently purchases two four-packs of the product, even though the grocery store scene only shows one. We know this because two four-packs of toilet paper fall out of his grocery bags as he's walking home. It's unclear if the creators of the film added an extra four-pack simply to make the bags look more full.
The total we calculated at Walmart in 2023, including tax, was $61.41. However, since McCallister purchased eight rolls of toilet paper, and the one six-pack we calculated was $6.98, it's perhaps fair to add around $2 to the total to account for the two extra rolls of toilet paper, which would bring things to just over $63. This was around $3 more than we calculated when we previously looked into this matter in December 2022.
In sum, McCallister's grocery store order in "Home Alone" for $19.83 appeared to be over three times more expensive in the year 2023. This total would likely be even more costly at locally owned grocery stores that can't afford some of the deals that a big chain like Walmart affords to its customers.