For many Americans, $2 bills are sacrosanct. You rarely see them used in stores, except as a decoration taped up over the cash register. In fact, growing up, my family considered it a kind of sin to spend one. Instead, my dad has an envelope stowed away somewhere in which an unknown amount of $2 bills are aging gracefully.
However, if Taco Bell has their way, the $2 bill could make a resurgence. Wednesday, the popular fast food chain took out a full page ad in USA Today requesting that the “Governors of the Federal Reserve” put more $2 bills into circulation. As The Wall Street Journal points out, the ad is tied to a larger promotion for Taco Bell’s new $2 combo meal deals, which by the way, are not actually $2 in a number of places.
Yet, even though the ad itself is clearly a ludicrous marketing ploy, it has called attention to a currency that Americans have long been nostalgic for. According to the U.S. Treasury, the $2 bill remains in circulation even today, but is only issued based on the demand from banks and generally is not printed “as often as the others.” Still, $2 bills have clearly been on the decline. The last year the $2 bill was printed was back in 2006. As of 2007, there was more than $1.5 billion worth of $2 bills in circulation and only about half that amount by the end of 2009.
Even with hundreds of millions of these bills floating around the country, they continue to feel like a rare commodity. There are multiple fan pages on Facebook for the $2 bill as well as sites like SaveJefferson.com, which offers a series of reasons to love the currency (“they take up less space in our wallets than singles”) and even holds a contest to redesign the bill. By comparison, there are tons of groups out there calling for the retirement of the penny. Clearly not all currencies are made equal.