This Feels Like a Market Failure


One man. Two boys. Twelve kids.

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34 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    Obviously, you’re missing eggnog. Fortunately, you’ve got friends online who can help. Provided you aren’t too squeamish about eating uncooked eggs.

    Get out your handy-dandy Kitchenaid stand mixer and set it up with the whisk attachment. Separate out four egg yolks and put the yolks in the mixer. Set the whites aside, we’ll be using those later. Set it on “4” and go gather the rest of your ingredients. When the yolks lighten from a dark yellow to a pale yellow, drop the speed down to “2.”

    In about six equal doses, trickle in a total of 1/3 cup of sugar. Each time, wait for the sugar to completely dissolve in the whipped egg yolks. When you’ve got the whole 1/3 cup of sugar in there, then add in 2 cups of regular 2% milk, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 3 shots of bourbon, and microplane in some ground nutmeg and maybe some cinnamon and vanilla extract if you’re thusly inclined. When all that gets good and integrated, pour the custard out into a mixing bowl.

    Then, you’re going to make a light meringue. Once you’ve scraped and cleaned the custard out of the bowl, put in the eggs and beat them slowly, again at the “2” level, until they start to stiffen (the liquid will hold its shape after the whisk moves on. Integrate a tablespoon of powdered sugar until it gets to the consistency of whipped cream. Then fold this meringue in to the custard until the whole thing is integrated. I’d suggest doing this part by hand, but the mixer set at the lowest speed would be okay too.

    Chill the mixture well, and for fish’s sake don’t make a habit of enjoying it, it has something like 10,000 calories to a four-ounce serving.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    I presume the availability of eggnog reflects the demand. Why there isn’t a fire sale (literally: what else are they useful for after Christmas ends?) on trees, I have no idea.Report

  3. trizzlor says:

    Our family celebrates the Soviet-era New Year, where Old Man Frost puts gifts under the New Year evergreen on Jan 1. So it’s a favorite family tradition to all go out on Christmas day scouring for rock-bottom prices on the best Christmas tree. Typically, we’d get one around 50% off; if you’re really lucky the owner is shutting down shop and will be happy for you take it off his hands for whatever you want. But every once in a while you’d find someone who was unwilling to budge on price and pretty indignant about it – “It was $50 yesterday and it’s $50 today!”. I guess I understand the reluctance to give up a bargain, but Christmas trees – of all things – are priced almost entirely based on their social value, which just happens to change drastically on December 25th. So either the Christmas Tree guy you spotted is standing on some kind of principle, or maybe there’s a bustling ex-Soviet immigrant community on the hunt for bargains.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to trizzlor says:

      So even the Soviets could not bring themselves to fully abandon the Georgian calender. Interesting….Report

      • trizzlor in reply to NewDealer says:

        Well, the Russian Orthodox church celebrates in the Julian calendar (Jan 7th) so those guys have even more reason to wait til after Christmas to grab a tree. The Soviet New Year celebration was promoted as a sort of compromise which, while strictly atheist, still allowed winter gift-giving and co-opted many thinly-veiled Christian elements. This even included faux-nativity scenes with Old Man Frost, the Snow Maiden, and Baby New Year (sounds like a heavy metal line-up, actually) standing in for the usual suspects.Report

      • NewDealer in reply to NewDealer says:

        I meant Julian..Damn…..Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        And this is why state atheism is just as stupid and silly as state religion. Just let people do as they well when it comes to religion and lack there of and leave it at that. The state should only get involved in religious affairs if its necessary to keep the social peace, say two religious groups fighting over one holy place, or if the religious ritual is something the state can’t endorse under any circumstances like human sacrifice.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to trizzlor says:

      The Bay Area has a pretty large contingent of Soviet era Eastern Europe refugees. Many of whom claim to be “Jewish”. The truth is there was probably one Jewish relative from a while ago (or sometimes more recently). I imagine there are a lot of people who do Georgian calender Christmas here.

      Same in Brighton Beach.Report

  4. Brandon Berg says:

    Are those cut Christmas trees, or live Christmas trees? If they’re still planted in the ground, there’s no reason to sell them at a discount now when they can be sold at full price a year from now.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      But who is buying? Any way you slice it, supply is going to outweigh demand today.Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy says:

        I’d expect the supply curve for live trees to have a sharp vertical point below which the suppliers just keep them for next year. If you’re willing to pay more than they’re worth to the supplier on 12/26, they’ll still sell them, but I’m sure you’re right that they aren’t moving any trees at that price. Imagine a supply curve that crashes to zero below, say, $25 per tree and a demand curve that crashes to zero above about $2 per tree and I think that’s about the right picture.

        That supply curve should stay pretty constant over time because farming those trees is a long-term operation, and the demand curve jumps around wildly for obvious reasons. The two would only ever cross over for a short while in December. Otherwise there’d be no market at all for people who farm trees that are too small for lumber, make lousy firewood, and don’t bear any fruit.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Kazzy says:

        Nobody’s buying. The grove owners are holding into them so that they grow bigger and can sold for more money next year. There’s demand from the grove owners to keep the trees alive and in the ground.

        Our are you asking why they’re even open for business when they aren’t likely to get any customers? That, I don’t know. You could always stop by and ask them.Report

      • Pierre Corneille in reply to Kazzy says:

        A question for Troublesome Frog, are you assuming the trees haven’t been cut down already? Otherwise, is it really possible to keep the trees for another year?Report

      • Troublesome Frog in reply to Kazzy says:


        That’s what it sounded like. If not, it’s a very strange case. The cut trees in my neighborhood dropped in price by 50-75% on 12/26 and are gone this morning. I have no idea if any trees were actually sold for the $8-15 they were charing for them. I suppose people who wanted branches for art projects might pay a few bucks for them.

        I was almost surprised that they weren’t giving them away. After Christmas, they just become a transport and disposal liability. I’m guessing that they have some sort of a bulk deal that turns them to mulch at pennies on the dollar. If you’re going to go to the trouble of farming or buying all of those trees, I suppose you’d be pretty dumb not to have a good plan for what to do with the unsold remnants.Report

  5. LeeEsq says:

    The reason why Christmas trees are available is that the Eastern Orthodox Christians haven’t celebrated it yet. Most Eastern Orthodox Christians refer to get tipsy on wine, if from Southern Europe or the Middle East, or Vodka, if from Eastern Europe. They do not drink egg nog, which is a Catholic and Protestant thing.Report

  6. Angela says:

    When I was growing up, we would buy the tree on Christmas Eve, and set it up without any decorations before going to bed. Then, in the morning, all the presents would be there, and the tree all decorated, etc, all done by Santa!
    It was pretty magical and fun.
    Only much later did I think about the economics of it all. My dad (raising 6 kids on a school teacher’s salary) would get the tree *really* cheep! I’m sure having urchins running around being cute helped.
    Now that I spend several days getting stuff on the tree, lights up, presents wrapped, etc, I’m a lot more impressed with my parents’ ability to pull all-nighters.Report

  7. Damon says:

    This is why I go cut my own xmas tree and make my own eggnog. :pReport

  8. Alan Scott says:

    The local gaming club used to sell pizza for half price after it had gone cold–everybody just waited for it to go cold instead of shelling out the extra dollar. Now they just charge full price and throw the extra stuff away, and make more money doing it.

    But I wouldn’t think that would be an issue with christmas trees. Where were you buying them. I know that when I worked at a grocery store, it would take a day or two for holiday goods to go on sale after the holiday, because the folks at the corporate HQ who actually changed the prices had the holiday off.Report

  9. Philip H says:

    Not a market failure in the strict academic sense, but a failure of the market to anticipate your needs. And mine for that matter as I love egg nog in all its forms and would prefer to make it the National Drink in December and January.

    But I digress.Report