The Pope in Philly

Gouging the faithful: Aramark’s World Meeting of Families official lunches cost $70 and up

On the plus side, you’ll get commemorative items — on the other hand you’ll pay at least a 220 percent mark-up on convenience store prices.


Would you pony up $70 for a picnic lunch for two? How about $125 for a family of four? If the Pope in Philly pilgrims packing the Ben Franklin Parkway this weekend want to eat on the fly, they’d better be ready for some sticker shock.

Very few restaurants are located inside the Parkway security perimeter (and several will be closed throughout the weekend). Recognizing this, official World Meeting of Families retailer Aramark set up a line of concession stands along the inner row of the boulevard, offering grab and go salads, sandwiches and snacks.

But as often happens when there’s a captive audience (in this case, more captive than usual, since checkpoints with metal detectors will keep people from leaving and re-entering the area), prices at these stands have little to do with common sense.

Aramark officials did not respond to a request for the full menu and price list (someone has now posted it on Facebook) but Billy Penn obtained a copy of the “Family Pack” offerings. These packages look designed for convenience…for which the faithful will pay dearly.

Aramark Family Pack offerings for Francis Festival on the Ben Franklin Parkway

Aramark Family Pack offerings for Francis Festival on the Ben Franklin Parkway

Jayson Weingarten

A Family Pack for two, with sandwiches, chips, pretzels, Tastykakes and drinks, runs $70, inclusive of sales tax. Using prices at an average corner convenience store in Center City, here’s the breakdown of what those items might usually cost:

Large hoagie….$6.69
Soft pretzel…$0.50
Mustard….$0.50 (sometimes it’s free, but)

Total for one person: $12.97
Sales tax (8%): $1.04

For two people (inclusive of sales tax): $28.02

There’s a big leap from $28 to $70 — it comes out to around 250 percent higher. (The four-pack goes from $56 to $125, which is around a 220 percent leap.)

Are these prices as ridiculous as they seem? It depends how much you value commemorative tchotchkes. Food isn’t the only thing that comes in these packages; each also contains what’s listed as “Commemorative Pope Cards w/ Medal.”

Oh, and the Tastykakes are in a special WMOF collectible tin. Keepsake Butterscotch Krimpets? Priceless.

Want some more? Explore other The Pope in Philly stories.

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