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This Is How Costco Hot Dogs and AriZona Iced Tea Still Cost What They Did 30+ Years Ago

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, accessed via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, accessed via Wikimedia Commons

Inflation is unavoidable and can have a drastic effect on the cost of food and other goods. Consumers everywhere have had to adjust to the rising prices of their favorite perishable staples. Thankfully, some companies have chosen to fight back against inflation and have kept the price of their goods the same for decades. Below, we discuss who they are and how they’ve been able to do so.

AriZona iced tea

Don Vultaggio sits with AriZona iced teas
Domenick “Don” Vultaggio, chairman of Beverage Marketing USA, parent company of AriZona Iced Tea in his office in Woodbury, New York on Aug. 29, 2012. (Photo Credit: Audrey C. Tiernan / Newsday RM / Getty Images)

The iconic and beloved AriZona iced tea 23-ounce can came out around 1992, and it has somehow managed to stay the same price for about 30 years. As inflation continues to drive the prices of everything else up high, consumers can trust and rely on the 99-cent price tag of the fan-favorite beverage.

How has the family-owned company kept the cost down for so long? Well, for starters, they sell about one billion cans of 99-cent iced tea a year. That’s no small matter. As well, their other products, including fruit drinks, energy drinks, and bottled teas, are priced higher than 99 cents, making profits roll in regardless of the price of the 23-ounce can staying the same all these years.

Of course, because of the rising costs of everything else, the revenue from the iced tea cans is down compared to previous years. Thankfully, the company’s 70-year-old founder, Don Vultaggio, has no intention of raising the 99-cent price tag. He said, “Consumers don’t need another price increase from a guy like me.” He feels that the short-term profit of raising prices isn’t worth the loss of loyal customers in the long run.

Costco hot dogs

The menu board at Costco, showing the price of the hot dog soda meal
Customers wait in line to order below signage for the Costco Kirkland Signature $1.50 hot dog and soda combo at the food court outside a Costco Wholesale Corp. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP / Getty Images)

Another family staple that has maintained a ridiculously low price tag is the Costco hot dog and soda meal, coming in at a meager $1.50. Introduced in the 1980s, families visiting the wholesaler could sit down after a long shopping trip to an affordable and delicious hot dog and soft drink at the Costco food court.

Over the years, costs have continued to rise, and current Costco CEO Craig Jelinek was scared that keeping the price the same was going to be a problem. After approaching co-founder Jim Sinegal about this fear, he was given a very clear and direct response. Sinegal said, “If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.” He seems pretty committed to keeping that $1.50 price tag.

The company has been able to keep the price the same for decades because they replaced their hot dog supplier with their internal Kirkland Signature brand. Keeping it in-house has helped costs stay low, and they also transitioned from 12-ounce soda cans to 20-ounce fountain drinks which cost significantly less for the business. In addition, other food court items have seen a price hike to offset the low cost of the hot dog and soda meal.

More from us: Money-Saving Tips From 1940s Homemakers That Still Work Today

While the rest of the consumer world takes a price hike, we can always rely on the AriZona iced tea cans and the Costco hot dog and soda meal to keep their super low price tags… for now.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!