Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Christmas Vacation’: How Much Was Clark Griswold’s Holiday Bonus?

‘Christmas Vacation’: How Much Was Clark Griswold’s Holiday Bonus?

The internet may have solved a pressing holiday movie question: How much was Clark Griswold’s bonus in Christmas Vacation? Curiosity among Reddit users grew as internet detectives appeared confident in uncovering the answer. Calculating Clark Griswold’s expected holiday bonus, intended to cover his backyard pool’s cost, requires serious number crunching.

The first thing to unwrap is Clark Griswold’s career. Clark, a chemical engineer at a food company, dedicated his efforts to tackling the issue of soggy cereal. He aimed to develop a non-nutritive cereal “varnish” that would prevent cereal from losing its crunch when soaked in milk. In the movie Vegas Vacation, he even earned a bonus for his breakthrough preservatives that extended the shelf life of milk to an impressive 8 years.

The Internet Breaks Down the ‘Christmas Vacation’ Holiday Bonus

Based on data from Salary.com, chemical engineers earn an average annual salary of $129,360. Reddit users speculated that based on inflation, Clark’s salary in the movie was likely around $80,000. The average appears to be accurate, as Clark’s boss could not recall his name, suggesting that he held a position that was not higher or tenured.

According to the LA Times in 1989, installing an inground pool cost between $16,000 and $24,000. In the film, Clark mentioned that he needed the bonus to cover the $7,500 down payment and have extra funds to fly the family back to Chicago for a swim if there was any money left over.

Of course, it’s reasonable to assume Clark expected a bonus of 20% or possibly higher. The boss showed interest in showcasing Clark’s cereal varnish and discussing it at a major event. So, with an $80,000 annual salary, a $16,000 bonus would be reasonable.

After Cousin Eddie kidnapped Clark’s boss and told Clark to increase his regular bonus by 20%. This brings the total bonus somewhere around $19,200. Nevertheless, certain Reddit users think that the bonus amount would have been $20,000. By adding a 20% increment, it would effortlessly cover the cost of the pool, amounting to $24,000.

Interestingly, it appears that many of our beloved Christmas movie characters were quite affluent during the 20th century. For instance, the parents in Home Alone must have been pulling serious bank. Peter and Kate McCallister, portrayed by John Heard and Catherine O’Hara, had to earn approximately $305,000 per year in 1990 to afford their home. These figures equate to roughly $665,000 in 2022.