Car sold for 1395 bananas

1965: Bernice Wyszynski saw a brand-new Pontiac sedan advertised for "1,395 bananas". So she tried to take the dealer up on that offer. However, the dealer insisted that the car actually cost $1,395. 'Bananas', he said, was a vernacular term for dollars. Wyszynski threatened to sue him for false advertising, and eventually he relented, selling her the car in exchange for 1,395 bananas.

I can buy five bananas at the supermarket for $1. Which means that, in present-day money, Wyszynski got the car for around $280. That's a pretty good deal.

Bernice Wyszynski died in 2003, and the banana incident made it into her obituary:

Mrs. Wyszynski became known as the "Banana Lady" after she bought a new 1965 Pontiac Tempest from Stephen Pontiac Cadillac, Bristol for 1395 bananas.

Long Beach Press-Telegram - May 5, 1965

Arizona Daily Star - May 1, 1965

     Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 10, 2021
     Category: Food | 1960s | Cars | Bananas

In an advertising/marketing class we were taught this story, as a warning to use the terms "dollars" and "cents" when advertising the price of something. Legally, if you advertise something for "bananas" or "cabbage" or "smackers" etc., you have to sell it for that if someone comes in and wants to exchange it for your product.
Posted by Patrick on 08/10/21 at 07:53 AM
What are smackers?
Posted by ges on 08/10/21 at 07:58 AM
"Smackers" or "smackaroos" is another slang term for dollars.
It is also a slang term for a kiss or a slap (smack). Potentially, if you advertised something for "20 smackers" someone could come in saying I will give you that many kisses or slaps for the item.
Posted by Patrick on 08/10/21 at 09:46 AM
I wonder how she fared with the government. Last Thursday, I bought a new VW. The price had to be listed on several documents because the state needs its sales tax, the county its usage tax, and the city its wheel tax. To add insult to injury, nobody took the stated price as authoritative. Each needed to look up the value in their own database to ensure the dealer and I weren't colluding to reduce the tax burden.

I doubt any of those humorless government drones would have taken bananas, prunes, or pennies as payment.
Posted by Phideaux on 08/10/21 at 09:48 AM
My father often used "samolians" for dollars. I wonder if I could find actual Samolians to pay with. Is it a person from Samoli?
There are so many of these: beans, bones, ducats... Paying with ducats sounds like it would be to the seller's advantage.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 08/10/21 at 11:00 AM
If she paid with about 1500 bananas, she was owed change. Surely the bean counters would have enjoyed the change of pace.
Posted by Virtual in Carnate on 08/10/21 at 11:06 AM
When I was in college here was a case where a car dealership printed a coupon in the local paper for $100
off a new car. Unfortunately for them they neglected to print “only one coupon per offer,” so when someone brought in enough $100 coupons to get a car for free, they had to give it to him.

Also, I wonder how this woman felt about being known as the “banana lady”… 😉
Posted by Brian on 08/10/21 at 04:11 PM
I've never heard banana used as slang for a dollar. Buck, yes.

@Virtual: probably the only ducat still minted, the dutch bullion coin, is nearly 3.5 grammes of nearly pure gold. At roughly $55 per gramme, yeah, I'd say that I'd rather be paid 10 ducats than 10 USD...

Oh, and Wiktionary claims that simoleon (or simolean) is probably a contraction of Simon and Napoleon, both themselves nicknames for coins.
Posted by Richard Bos on 08/14/21 at 05:35 AM
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