October 04, 1989 12:00 PM


’80 10 pounds per capita

’87 17.1 pounds per capita


’80 4.114 Americans with $1 million or more annual adjusted gross income

’86 35,875

Americans Living in Poverty

’80 29.2 million

’87 32.5 million

U.S. Minimum Wage

’81 $3.35 per hour

’89 $3.35 per hour

Art at Auction

’81 Picasso self-portrait, Yo Picasso (1901) $5.83 million

’89 Same painting, $47.9 million

Union Membership

’80 23% of all employees

’88 16.8%

Defense Budget

’80 $134 billion

’89 $298.3 billion estimated

Trade Deficit

’80 $19.7 billion

’89 $119.8 billion through July

Compact Discs

’84 $2.4 million

’88 $33.4 million

Prison Population

’80 329,821

’88 627,402

Budget Deficit

’80 $73.8 billion

’89 $155.1 billion estimated

U.S. Assets Held by Foreigners

’80 $500.8 billion

’89 $1.7 trillion

Sony Walkman

’80 37,000 sold

’88 25 million sold (cumulative)


’80 $59.3 million

’88 $8.5 million

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

’80 $373,997 gross sales

’88 $47.5 million

Bottled water

’80 2.8 gallons per capita (sparking and still)

’89 7.2 gallons per capita

Fax Machines

’83 50,000 sold

’88 1.1-million sold

“Traditional” Families

’80 17.1 million families had a father at work, mother at home, one or more children

’88 13.7 million families

Working Mothers

’80 17.8 million

’88 21.5 million

Test tube Babies

’81 1 (Elizabeth Carr, Westminster, Mass.)

’88 5,500 (cumulative)

Microwave Ovens

’80 3.6 million sold

’88 10.9 million sold

Cosmetic Surgery

’81 380,400 total surgical procedures

’88 681,070 procedures

Network Share

’80 85% share of prime-time viewing audience

’89 67% share


’80 805,000 sold

’88 10.7 million sold


’85 517,000 sold

’89 2.5 million estimated

Cellular Phones

’84 25,000 sold

’89 475,000 estimated

Cable TV

’80 19.2% of homes wired

’89 55.6% wired, through May

Automated Teller Machines(ATMs)

’80 19,858

’88 98,708


MAX Headroom

The G Spot

Checker cabs

Sir Freddie Laker and his no-frills fares

Luke and Laura, General Hospital’s hot, heaving heartthrobs

Jelly beans










Charge of the LITE Brigade

Let there be Lite!” When the Madison Avenue divinity that shapes our ends—as well as our tummies and thighs—made this weighty proclamation, cardiologists were warning that only a drastic change in the nation’s lipid-loaded diet could reverse our triglyce-ride to arterial ruin. Ironically the same commercial food processors who had fattened their wallets by egging us on, fattened them some more by slimming us down.

Back in 1952, Dawson’s Calorie Controlled Ale and Lager Beer had failed to tap a market. But a decade that was ready to spend more and tax less brought huge success to a beer—Miller Lite—that claimed to taste great and be less filling. Budweiser, Amstel and Michelob soon joined the brewhaha. By mid-decade, store shelves were groaning with lite bread, lite margarine, lite mayo, lite Jell-O, lite cola, lite pancakes, lite syrup, lite sour cream, lite sausage, lite salt and even lite peanuts. Butchers featured lite beef from steers finished on hay. Cosmetics firms jumped on the blandwagon with lite makeup and lite mousse. Detroit brought out lite auto bodies made of plastic. G.E. marketed lite light bulbs—95-watters producing as many lumens as regular 100-watt bulbs. Lite products now account for about 6 percent of new food items introduced annually in the U.S. Some of them are surprisingly heavy. Finn Crisp Lite Crackers, it turns out, contain one more calorie per slice than regular Finn Crisp crackers.

The Right to Lite movement shaped behavior, too. Ultrathin lite condoms invaded the American bedroom. Lite sunbathers, their skin protected by sunblock, littered the beaches. Lite FM tickled the ears. A huge market developed for lite-rature on tape—Workman Press condensed 710 pages of Moby Dick into 10 minutes of aural fast food—and as the decade wound down, a lite dollar buoyed the economy.

Has the Lite Decade improved our lives? Well, the death rate from coronary artery disease has fallen steadily, but with 34 million U.S. adults still overweight, it may be some time before we turn off the lite.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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