Overpriced Food You Can Make Yourself: From Artbox and Geylang Serai Bazaar 2018
Alongside many, we talk about the mysterious phenomena of crowds swarming to recent popular bazaars and how people are willing to blow money time and time again on colourful food and Instagram-worthy shots.
Our case studies include the two most recent happenings:
1) The Geylang Serai Bazaar, running from 12 May to 14 June
2) Artbox, open from 1 to 3 June
Despite the high prices of food and fashion, we have seen Millennials crowding these places with eager cameras and older people getting dragged by their younger counterparts to visit the talk of the town.
Before we delve into the details, let’s begin with an analysis of how much these Instagram-worthy food items actually cost if you make them at home.
Top 3 Instagram-Worthy Bazaar Food You Can Make Yourself
Think Meal Prep, Instagram-worthy version. I can almost hear my mother nagging, “Can make yourself, buy for what?”
We broke down the costs of making 3 of the most generic bazaar-food: Rainbow toast, Meatballs and Colourful juice.
1. Rainbow Grilled Cheese Toast
Rainbow food is all the hype these days. Why? We don’t quite know, but they sure look appealing on Instagram.
Rainbow Grilled Cheese Toast is sold at $5 per sandwich at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar. Charcoal toast from Say Chiizu can be found at 313 Somerset for $3.80. This, however, is a small sandwich with normal-coloured cheese.
How to make Rainbow Grilled Cheese Toast at home:
- Bread: 1 Loaf = $1.25
- Mozzarella Cheese = $4.95
- Colouring = $1.05 for 1. Ideally, you have some already sitting at home
- Rainbow Sprinkles = $2.10
- Toast 2 slices of bread in a toaster oven
- Melt a small amount of mozzarella cheese in 4 different bowls and add a drop of colouring to each. According to the picture above, they used red green and yellow.
- Apply the cheese on your toast in 4 stripes
- Optional: Spread condensed milk on either side of the toasts
Makes: 4 Sandwiches
Price of 1: $2.35
Price of 1 at bazaar: $5
2. Meatballs In A Bucket
Meatballs in buckets have made its appearance at the Prudential Carnival earlier this year and it makes its appearance again today at the Geylang Serai Bazaar. Selling at $9, this is one of the carnival-favourites as you can share it with a group of friends and it fills your tummy.
How to make Meatballs In A Bucket at home:
- Frozen Meatballs: 1 packet = $5
- Gravy: Mushroom Gravy Seasoning = $2.25
- Onions: Packet of 8 = $1.45
- Microwave meatballs
- Mix gravy seasoning with water to make sauce
- Add diced and lightly fried onions to sauce
Makes: 2 Buckets
Cost of 1: $4.35
Cost of 1 at bazaar: $9
3. Colourful Drinks
Another popular, visually-appealing food item would be colourful drinks at both Artbox and Geylang’s Bazaar.
How to make juice at home:
- Mangoes: $2.90 for 2
- Honeydew: $3.95
- Optional: Edible Glitter $9 (Can last at least 20 drinks)
- Blend or juice the various coloured fruit separately
- Optional: Add a pinch of edible glitter into each fruit juice and mix well
- Pour them atop each other carefully
Cost of 1: $1.37 (without glitter)
Cost of 1 at bazaar: $5 (with glitter)
So, Why Are Prices So High?
Now that we have gone through the possible costs of making bazaar-worthy food, it may be easy to assume that these vendors are just out to scam our money.
However, after speaking to vendors at the Geylang Serai Bazaar, the biggest deciding factor for how they price their food seems to be the cost of getting a spot at the bazaar itself.
High Rental Costs
Rental costs at the Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar range from S$17,000 to S$22,000 at prime locations at the bazaar, and S$8,000 to S$12,000 for less crowded areas.
The NUS Trio that started Tri-Fries together, setting up shop at the Geylang Serai Bazaar said that they too think that food prices at the bazaar are exorbitant. However, it is inevitable as the price in order to cover their high rental costs. They reflected that stall owners do want to keep their prices affordable for customers but high rental costs often stand in the way of that.
When Artbox first made its appearance in Singapore last year, “Supporting creativity, not profit” was its spirit. However, that seems to be hard to keep to with events-space rental being high in Singapore.
Are People Still Willing To Spend?
There are mixed reviews on whether the gimmicks at these bazaars are worth the time and money.
Most online reviews reflect that prices at these events are rather high, and some reflect that it’s simply not worth the hype. Yet, food critiques still continue to give their two cents about the “Top 5 Things To Try” and “Most Instagrammable Food”.
So, with Instagram photos streaming in and friends asking you if you have been, I guess the answer at the end of the day is probably still yes, we’ll spend at these bazaars anyway.
Here are two reasons why blowing $30 easily on one bazaar seems “normal” these days
1. Food Photography and Instagram
Cafe food or else, good-looking food have been an enduring trend since ages ago. Almost everyone has become a food photojournalist with their high-pixel phone cameras, well-equipped with filters that can make your beef burger look like a million bucks. It is not only food prices that have increased but also our taste in food, shaped by trends.
It’s not a surprise then, that buying meals at $20 has become normalized. Lunch gatherings with friends and weekend dates run up to $30 if you treat yourself an extra latte.
2. Expensive Trends
Clothing trends these days are no longer bermudas you can get from Bugis Street or styles you can simply replicate with cheaper alternatives. The trends these days make brands matter a lot.
No-logo doesn’t quite cut it nowadays, and it doesn’t help that trend-setters online are clad in Supreme and using $80 Urban Decay Eyeshadow Palettes. With price tags like these, it’s hard to differentiate “wants” and “needs”.
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