‘How upsizing with ice cream and bread rolls as a child affects my money habits today’

May 27, 2021
Peter remembers a time when wanting the upsized version didn't cost you a penny. Source: Getty Images

We’ve all been there. Studying two near identical products with the only difference being the amount we get for our hard-earned money. It’s the $5 regular pizza versus
the supersized version with more than twice the toppings for only $3 more. As we move through life these upsizing choice dilemmas create even greater buying stress. The new car salesman offering us the GT package with leather seat trims and seven-zone climate control for a measly heavily discounted price of only a few thousand
dollars more. This isn’t a new marketing strategy of course.

My first memory of the tactic involves the humble ice cream cone. Specifically, the ice cream cone that Mum would sometimes offer us on the long trek back from the shops in Frankston on the outskirts of Melbourne. By long trek, I’m talking about a 1.5-mile walk down Beach Street and across the railway tracks with my little sister in a pusher and me holding Mum’s hand. This was about two years before Mum’s licence and car days.

Halfway home there was a corner milk bar. Ice creams came in two sizes. The threepenny and the sixpence versions. For my mind, the threepenny ice cream was hardly worth the effort. A skinny little cone with a dob of ice cream on the top that was not much bigger than a large marble. I know they had a proper name, but large marble will do for now. Whereas the sixpence ice cream had a much larger cone and the ice cream resting in the crater at the top of the cone was the size of a cricket ball.

I do believe there was an element of seniority that was taken into account with the choice here in that my little sister seemed to get the threepenny while me being two years older was treated to the sixpenny delight.

My next experience in upsizing was accidental on my part. Like many families of the early-1960s, we had a bread man call on us each day. He came in a small red van
emblazoned with ‘Tip Top’ on the side. I’m thinking it was a Ford Transit or something similar. I’m not sure why, but each day the little girl next door and I would
front up to the baker after he had delivered bread to our houses to ask for bread roll, which we were both duly prepared to pay for with three pence.

One day, to our surprise, the upsizing involved us not getting a fairly boring bread roll, but instead a top-of-the-line cream bun that would usually cost sixpence. You’d be thinking at this stage the whole Australian economy revolved around three pence and sixpence pieces, but at the age of five it really did, and rarely did our purchases involve anything involving a two-shilling coin. These were only reserved for the twice-yearly drive up to Fern Tree Gully to visit our grandparents. On this trip, we usually were given two shillings to buy a mixed bag of lollies, which equated to a feast by today’s standards.

Anyway, this practice of us paying for a bread roll and getting a cream bun seemed to go on for a while. It’s hard to recall lengths of time accurately when you are young so I’m not really sure if we got this great upsizing deal for a few days or a few weeks. I also have no memory of what our parents thought about us having a regular breakfast diet of cream buns.

However, my memory is very clear about the morning we fronted up to the bread man, to find he had been replaced with a totally different person. We handed over our three pence coins and received a bread roll each. This was now, it seemed, the new norm and our freewheeling upsized cream bun days were over.

It was only in later years I began to ponder the fate of our original breadman. Had all the children in the surrounding area been lining the sides of the road outside their houses scoring their daily upsized bread treats? Had the bread man regularly returned to the bakery with a van full of unsold bread rolls and no cream buns? Had the bakery bosses done some calculations and come up with multiple threepence transaction deficits, which explained the disappearance of our old bread man?

I’ll never know, but whenever I’m feeling pressured into upsizing my burger deal or my new car, I can think back to the time when upsizing didn’t cost us a cent or pence more.

What did you spend your money on as a kid? How much did it cost you?

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