You can come for my chicken tenders, you can even come for my Doritos, but when you come for my Costco food court, well, buddy, that’s when we have a real problem. And yet it seems I should brace myself, because the great modern evils of inflation and supply chain issues are starting to wrap their claws around Costco’s beloved chicken bake and 20-ounce soda, Insider reports. The chicken bake—a delectable crusted bite filled with chicken, bacon, cheese, and Caesar dressing—has gone up in price from $2.99 to $3.99, while the soda is now 69 cents, up a dime from its previous price. It might not seem like much, but it implies a much more terrifying possibility on the horizon: a price hike on Costco’s famous hot dog and soda combo.
Since 1985, Costco has sold a hot dog (a big one!) and a soda for just $1.50. We’ve sang the deal’s praises many times, and we’ve praised the company for never changing it, a strategy that the wholesale store is able to keep up because shoppers who come for the great hot dog deal tend to spend even more in the store.
In January 2020, CEO Craig Jelinek stated with confidence that there were no plans to raise the price of the deal. Just this past May, Costco Senior Vice President Robert Nelson echoed the sentiment. And let us not forget the creed of Costco founder Jim Senegal: “If you raise the [price of the] effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.”
Insider reports that grocery prices as a whole have gone up about 14.6%, while Costco has only seen a 7% price hike in the last year, relatively mild in comparison. Part of the reason Costco can avoid some of that pressure is the money flowing in from membership fees, Forbes reports, with around 110 million members paying $60-$120 annually just for the privilege of stepping through the door. With more and more people looking for ways to save money by buying wholesale groceries, not to mention combat rising gas prices, membership numbers are on the rise.
The wholesale model also puts Costco at an advantage. Unlike smaller grocery stores, the very infrastructure of each Costco location is built to stock up, so the stores are able to frontload their inventory with high-demand items at more reasonable prices. And according to Forbes, larger non-grocery items like mattresses, furniture, exercise equipment, and televisions are being purchased more frequently through Costco’s e-commerce site, freeing up even more in-store space for grocery items.
In short, Costco is doing its best to be there for us in our time of need, and we shouldn’t yet freak out about spending a couple extra bucks at the food court. If the hot dog and soda deal changes, then we’ll really have to worry, but until then, you can bulk shop and enjoy the food court in peace.