One of the first lessons you learn in an economics class is that as the demand for something goes up, so does the price. Now, why is that? Is it that firms are trying to take advantage of people wanting to buy something? Or could it be that something else is going on. Maybe that other side… the supply one.
Let’s talk about Valentine's. And then I’ll give you a recipe for some delicious chocolate cookies with a bright red cherry on top that are a perfect way to celebrate the day.
Around Valentine’s Day, the demand for red roses increases… a lot. Apparently there are 250 million roses produced for the day. For comparison, the U.S. population is just under 330 million. So, if you spread out all of the roses, 75% of the population (including kids) could get a rose. That’s actually quite a nice thought… imagine everyone being handed a single rose on Valentine's Day. But, I digress. Let’s get back to economics.
A whole bunch of people want to buy roses on Valentine's Day. Roses, however, have to be grown, picked, flown, and delivered to you. Unlike the latest popular Christmas toy, roses cannot just be produced in bulk throughout the year and then stored in time for the holiday. They need to be produced and shipped just in time.
Here is the general process:
- First, they have to be grown so that they will be ready to bloom on Valentine’s Day.
- Second, they have to all be picked around the same time. To pick so many roses extra workers have to be hired.
- Then, they have to be flown from wherever they are grown to the U.S. (The Netherlands… Colombia… Kenya… Ecuador...) This is another beautiful sight. Imagine a whole plane full of roses. Although you would need to bundle up to travel with these roses as they have to be kept at a certain temperature.
- Once they are in the U.S. they have to be arranged and transported to the city where they will ultimately be sold. Again, this will require extra labor and extra refrigerated trucks.
All of this amounts to a lot of additional costs to produce roses… extra flowers, extra labor, extra fuel for planes and transportation, etc. So… while the demand increased, so did the cost of increasing production. This helps lead to a doubling of the price of a dozen roses on Valentine's Day.
Is the flower industry making money on Valentine’s Day? Absolutely. If they weren’t, why would they produce all of these flowers? But, are they just out to get the love-struck boy who wants to show his love to his crush… not in my opinion.
People are willing to pay more for roses on Valentine's. It costs more to produce so many roses. It makes sense that prices need to rise to reach an equilibrium.
Some great sources on this:
A discussion of how trade agreements increased the supply of roses from Columbia and lowered the price.
Here is a visual of the rose from farms to houses.
Here is a video on how the rose gets into your hands from the economist Alex Tabarrok.
Chocolate Covered Cherry Delights
If you don't want to spend extra money on roses, consider making these cookies instead! They are delicious, don't require special equipment, and look very pretty! Also, check out the fun murder mystery they are from. I love the whole series.
1 cup butter (melted)
2 cups sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cocoa powder
3 cups flour
2 small (10 oz) jars maraschino cherries or 1 large (16 oz.) jar (save the juice!)
2 cups chocolate chips
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
This recipe does not require a mixer!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter and stir in sugar with a spatula. Let cool slightly, add eggs, and mix again. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and cocoa. Finally, stir in flour and mix well. Set aside.
Over a double boiler or just a low heat while constantly stirring (you don’t want to burn the chocolate) melt sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips together. Once melted and all incorporated add a couple spoonfuls of the cherry juice. This doesn’t have to be exact. Stir it in and then take off of the heat.
Roll dough into balls, place on cookie sheet and put a thumb indent in each one (I think the back of a tsp works really well here too and creates the perfect indent).
Spoon a little of the melted chips/condensed milk mixture onto each cookie.
Place a maraschino cherry on top of each one.
Bake for around 10 to 12 min.
This took around 3 batches for me to complete. After the first one, I reheated the chocolate chip mixture on the stove with a little more cherry juice just to soften it up a bit.
Enjoy! And Happy Valentine's Day!