Gray’s Papaya began in 1973 at Broadway and West 72nd Street, offering hot dogs and papaya juice just like the older Papaya King. In the late 1980s or early 1990s, Gray’s began offering a “Recession Special” of two hot dogs and papaya juice for $1.95. The “Recession Special” has never been discontinued, regardless of the economic conditions—although the price has increased through the years.
In 2008 (during a real recession), the price of Gray’s ‘Recession Special” took a large jump, from $3.50 to $4.45. Other food establishments also began offering a “recesssion special” in 2008.
Wikipedia: Gray’s Papaya
Gray’s Papaya is a hot dog restaurant with three locations on the West Side of Manhattan, open 24 hours a day year-round. The three locations of Gray’s Papaya in Manhattan are: 539 Eighth Avenue at 37th Street, 402 Sixth Avenue at 8th Street, and 2090 Broadway at 72nd Street. Somewhere between a street vendor and a fast food restaurant, Gray’s Papaya is famous for its very inexpensive, high-quality hot dogs. The “papaya” in the name refers to the fruit drinks sold at the establishment, which include orange, grape, piña colada, coconut champagne (non-alcoholic), and banana daiquiri (non-alcoholic) in addition to papaya. As of October 2008, the “Recession Special”, (2 hot dogs and a drink) is US$4.45 instead of the previous cost of US$3.50 and a single hot dog is US$1.25, with tax included.
The original Gray’s Papaya was started as a spin-off/clone of Papaya King in 1973.
Uploaded on May 3, 2006
3 August 1995, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “New York will soon be all over TV” by Geraldine Baum, Life & Style section, pg. E1:
...to walk over to the Broadway Nut Shop for chocolate malted balls or to Gray’s Papaya for the recession special: two hot dogs and a drink for $1.95?
New York (NY) Times
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: UPPER WEST SIDE; The 50-Cent Dog Has Had Its Day at Gray’s Papaya
By COREY KILGANNON
Published: April 18, 1999
The stores’ owner, Nicholas Gray, said rising expenses had forced the increase. When he opened the 72d Street store in 1973, he said, his monthly rent was $3,000. Now it is ‘’five or six times that.’’
His other store, at the Avenue of the Americas and Eighth Street, will raise prices soon, he said, and Gray’s ‘’recession special,’’ two hot dogs and a 14-ounce drink for $1.95, will come to an end.
New York (NY) Times
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: EAST VILLAGE; The Hot Dog Wars Heat Up, and It’s Not Just the Mustard That’s Spicy
By KYTJA WEIR
Published: March 31, 2002
Gray’s Papaya pitches its ‘’recession special’’ of two dogs and a drink for $2.45.
New York (NY) Times
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: MANHATTAN UP CLOSE; Recipe for a $22.55 Martini: Plump Olives and Panache
By ERIKA KINETZ
Published: June 15, 2003
But not all businesses fight the bad economy the same way. Frank Visich, who with his wife owns a food cart across the street from the Pierre, introduced a ‘’Recession Special’’ two years ago. It’s two chicken dogs with American cheese and a canned drink, for five bucks.
New York (NY) Daily News
SIGN OF THE TIMES
Frank talk about the economy
BY JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ
Wednesday, May 26th 2004, 1:04AM
Customers at Gray’s Papaya will have to dig deeper to indulge in the frankfurter joint’s famous “Recession Special.”
The price of the special meal, which includes two hot dogs and a drink, is going up 12%, from $2.45 to $2.75.
The new price is expected to be in place next week. At the upper West Side outpost of the chain, signs were posted in March so hot-dog lovers wouldn’t bark.
“We have a lot of regular customers and we wanted to give advance notice,” says Romy Villanueva, general manager of the establishment at W. 72nd St. and Broadway.
The sign’s last line reads “Please don’t hate us.”
Pizza and beer now cost an arm and a leg
Sure sign economy is headed for trouble: Even cheap eats are hard to find
By Al Olson
updated 10:18 p.m. CT, Fri., Feb. 29, 2008
Even the lowly hot dog is getting more expensive. Gray’s Papaya, a New York hot dog institution, will be jacking up the price for its $3.50 “Recession Special” – two hot dogs and a 14-ounce drink. Nicholas Gray, owner of the frankfurter chain, has yet to set the price increase, but he indicated it is coming soon.
New York (NY) Post
WHAT’S FOR BROKEFAST?
THESE FOOD FIXES COST MEGABUCKS
By CARLA SPARTOS
May 21, 2008
$4.50 Hot Dog Special
Forget the Consumer Price Index. There’s no better economic bellwether than the price of the “Recession Special” - two hot dogs and a drink - at Gray’s Papaya. And the forecast is grim: Rising costs of everything from ketchup to rolls are forcing owner Nicholas Gray to jack up the $3.50 price tag in the coming weeks. “The whole thing, it’s depressing,” says Gray. “It’s a kick in the stomach, a knife in the side, to me and the customer.”
New York (NY) Times
New York Up Close
A Cheap Lunch Takes a Hit
By JAKE MOONEY
Published: October 17, 2008
AS economic indicators, the myriad colored signs above the registers at Gray’s Papaya, the Manhattan hot dog chain, leave something to be desired. They have advertised the stores’ “Recession Special” — two franks and a drink (anything but pineapple and orange) — since the late 1980s, through boom and bust, high times and low.
If the signs have looked sadly appropriate at some moments in their history, there have been other times, like the days of the dot-com bubble and the current decade’s real estate gold rush, when the idea of a recession-related discount may have felt a tad outdated. A deal is always nice, but a recession? In better days, it seemed a stretch.
But no more. With the stock market’s recent slide and the continuing financial crisis, fears of a recession are back, and the signs at Gray’s, like a stopped clock, are looking timely again. Not that Nicholas Gray, the chain’s founder and its resident sage, is happy to be right.
“I’m as suicidal as everybody else,” Mr. Gray said with a sigh in a recent phone interview.
In fact, he added, the downturn will soon force a shift in one aspect of the recession special: the price. This week, the special will rise to $4.45 from $3.50, Mr. Gray said.
October 20, 2008
Dog Day Afternoon: Gray’s Papaya Raises Price of ‘Recession Special’
First the national debt clock runs out of placeholder digits, and now the price of two hot dogs and a drink from Gray’s Papaya—their legendary ‘Recession Special’—is increasing five whole cents short of a buck, from $3.50 to $4.45. On the subject of the price hike that he’d warned the world about last February, 72-year-old founder Nicholas Gray tells the Times, “It’s always very traumatic for me as well as the customers.”
Gray’s Papaya, a New York mini-empire known for cheap hot dog and paper tropical fruit cutouts hanging from the ceiling, opened its first store in 1972. Nicolas Gray modeled his store on Papaya King, another hot dog shop whose stores and registered trademarked line “Papya King frankfurters are tastier than filet mignon” date all the way back to 1932. (Their franks are also vastly superior to movie hot dogs.) The ‘Recession Special’ at Gray’s cost $1.95 throughout “most of the ‘90s,” according to the Times, then increased in 2002 and 2006.
Most Extreme Recession Special Ever
Posted by Sarah DiGregorio at 1:28 PM, November 6, 2008
Amid the deluge of recession specials, we just got word of one that takes the trend to another level: Casa Havana is offering a Recession Breakfast that includes two eggs, ham or bacon, french fries, toast and coffee for 20 cents. That’s an entire meal you could pay for by digging up change from under the couch cushions.
We can’t say how delicious it is (although we do like their octopus salad), but for 20 cents we’re not asking the hard questions. The special is available from 7am to 11am.
190 8th Avenue