What Condoms, Condiments, and Condominiums Have in Common

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Other than the fact that they start with the same four letters, sales of all three have been strongly and directly affected by the economic downturn.

Over the past couple of years, sales of condoms are up, most likely because this is one expense that’s cheaper than having another mouth to food—much cheaper according to one estimate of how much it costs to raise a child from birth through college ($1.1 million). At the same time, thanks to the real estate collapse, there are now quite a few spots around the country where a condo costs less than a new car (and not a ridiculously expensive one, but a Prius).

Now, BusinessWeek reports of a recession-related condiment craze: Thus far in 2010, 36 new mayonnaises have entered the marketplace (nearly three times the number of new mayos in 2009), and, in July 2010, for example, overall condiment sales were up 7% compared to the year before.

What’s up with the condiment mania? BW says that smaller companies have successfully been rolling out flavored mayos and specialty mustards for years, and now the bigger companies like Kraft are getting into the game.

Also, because of high unemployment and general economic unease, a lot more people are making their own sandwiches rather than regularly going out for lunch. And the people packing sandwiches are in the market for something that doesn’t cost much but that’ll add some extra kick, zing, and flavor to what can otherwise be a dull, somewhat depressing brown-bag affair. Perhaps a squirt of wasabi mayo or a little raspberry mustard will do the trick.

Here are more than 100 other ways to spice up your sad homemade sandwich.

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