15 Expensive Foods That Used to Be Cheap

History has seen food value change. Once cheap staples or discarded parts are now gourmet, costly items. Here are 15 foods that experienced the luxury lift.


Once used as bait and 'poverty food', lobsters are now luxury dining due to overfishing and high demand, causing prices to soar.


Snails, once pests and cheap food, are now a delicacy served in upscale restaurants worldwide. Learn more here.


Truffles are underground fungi with a unique aroma and flavor. Once a cheap European food, their rarity and harvesting challenges have made them extremely pricey.


Caviar, salted roe of sturgeon, was once abundant. Its demand and decline in sturgeons made it one of the costliest foods.<


Saffron, made from dried crocus flower stigmas, was a cheap substitute for cinnamon and ginger. Now, known as "red gold," its harvesting process makes it a highly priced spice.

Foie Gras

Foie gras, once a cheap food source, is now a symbol of luxury due to its delicate texture and rich flavor. It's made from force-fed geese or ducks' enlarged livers.


Monkfish or "poor man's lobster" was once deemed inedible. Its meat is now esteemed for its appealing texture and delicate flavor, making it a top choice in fine dining establishments.

Caterpillar Fungus

Caterpillar fungus, a mushroom used in traditional Chinese medicine, is now one of Asia's most expensive foods due to high demand.

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu beef, a Japanese breed known for its marbling and flavor, was once unpopular in Japan. Now, it's among the world's priciest beef due to strict breeding and scarcity.


Sushi, initially a simple snack made from leftover fish and rice, has evolved into a fine dining experience crafted by skilled chefs.


Quinoa, a grain-like crop from the Andes, was once only known locally. Its high nutritional value has now made it a pricey health food.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup, once a cheap sweetener in North America, has become a luxury due to declining maple trees and tech advances in production.


Oysters, once plentiful and cheap, are now a rare, expensive delicacy due to overharvesting and pollution.


Artichokes, popular among ancient Greeks and Romans, became a gourmet vegetable in the 20th century. They're now costly due to their labor-intensive preparation.


Once a poor man's butter in Mexico, avocados are now trendy and expensive fruits, known as "green gold" for their health benefits and cooking versatility.

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