Gourmet Groceries — for More!

Beer for $120 a bottle, Water for $40. Some old staples now cost a fortune. Are they worth it?

The specialty-food sector is growing as pantry goods that used to be basic commodities are being repackaged as upscale luxuries.

Oh yes, I came to mock. coffee for $600 a pound? Fifty dollars for a pack of three 1-lb. (0.45 kg) tubes of butter? A liter of olive oil for $182? A $120 bottle of beer? I am an intolerable food snob, but I am also from middle-class New Jersey, and the upper reaches of the grocery aisles can make me want to smash something, like a tiny bottle of $145 balsamic vinegar that comes in a box with a 106-page book.

No food, it seems, is safe these days from being repackaged in a shiny platinum case as an upscale...

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