Jersey Jack – September 2022


Cream Cheese & What’s Important in Life

by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball &

Last month, I talked about bagels and the increasing size of the hole. Today, I was buying cream cheese and the popular brand was $7.99 for a 16-ounce tub and the store brand was $3.88. That’s some difference for what should be the same thing.

I’m not exactly sure what makes the famous name brand cost more to buy. Better taste, better ingredients, reputation? Therein lies the great divide between what we know and love and the unknown we’re unsure about.

How much difference can there be in cream cheese? The national chain store with the off brand does not make the cream cheese. Some other well known cream cheese maker produces it and puts it in a tub with a different name. Today, store brands of all kinds are seeing a big increase in sales as cost conscious consumers look for reasonable options for many products.

Looking to save money, you may even find bargains in places where you don’t normally shop. I keep getting daily emails from Macys, touting their sales and so, the other night, I caved and went there. I found some really nice shirts on sale for a fraction of original price in their Backstage department. I spent $115 and walked out with a shopping bag full of nice shirts, some at original price of $58 each! Who knew?

Since gas prices went up, have you changed the brand of gas you bought? Have you started using regular or premium instead of super? Have you decided to compromise down to save some money? A change in buying habits is an effect of the inflation in our economy. We all remember when a house or car cost far less than what it does today. Heck, I bought my first new pinball machine in 1978 for $1,250!

When I’m out and about, I don’t see any evidence of the economy slowing down. What I know is only what I see and experience. While many complain constantly about prices, I see people shrug their shoulders and buy whatever it is they are complaining about anyway.

I’ve been traveling a bit and I don’t see any slowdown at all. I would almost call it revenge travel. People seem to be making up for the time they were shut inside and prevented from going anywhere. They’re on the roads, in theme parks, at the beaches and filling hotels and restaurants. It’s even hard to get reservations in certain places for rental cars.

Maybe some of these people are traveling because they want to do it now, and perhaps someday they can’t. As my Cousin Vinny repeats the Huey Lewis and the News song: “We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.”

As we look around and start to realize what’s important, it’s probably not which cream cheese we buy. It’s about building and living a life that brings joy and happiness to your loved ones and yourself. The money part, while important, is not the end-all.

The economy will go up and down as it always does. If you need to change the grade of gas you use in your car to save a few bucks, I think that’s fine. But for goodness sakes, be good to yourself and those around you. Go ahead and buy the best darn cream cheese you can because you’re worth it!

Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999,, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011, he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@


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