Costco has kept its food court prices super cheap.

The legend of Costco’s $1.50 hot-dog-and-soda combo

Costco’s hot-dog-and-soda combo has been priced at $1.50 since 1984. Years ago, the company’s then-president, Craig Jelinek, complained to cofounder and CEO Jim Sinegal that the deal was a money loser. Sinegal nodded. “If you raise [the price of] the effing hot dog,” he said, “I will kill you. Figure it out.”

The West Coast superstore sold about 150 million of the combos in 2019, more than the total number of dogs sold at every Major League Baseball stadium combined, by far. It could easily bump the price up. An extra 25 cents, for example, would amount to $37.5 million.

But Costco has embraced the idea that the deal pays for itself in brand loyalty among customers. A certain nostalgia for simpler times also seems to play a role.

Sinegal retired in 2012, raising the possibility that new leadership might revisit the combo matter. At a shareholder meeting in January, Jelinek, now CEO, said he was repeatedly asked about it. “We have no plans to take that hot dog above a buck 50,” he said. “End of story.” A cheer arose.

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