Costco shoppers lulled into a false sense of security by the wholesale giant 's refusal to raise the price on its $1.50 hot dog and soda combo for decades are getting a wake-up call. While that iconic food court item is still the same, the costs of the chicken bake and a solo order of soda have just gone up.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the food court’s chicken specialty—a chicken breast with bacon and Caesar dressing baked inside a cheesy bread loaf—is now $3.99, up from $2.99. If all that sodium makes you thirsty, the chain is now offering a 20-ounce soda for 69 cents, a 10-cent increase.
These are far less dramatic price shifts than consumers are used to, with the prices of homes, cars, building materials, and consumer goods seeing marked increases in recent years. But considering that Costco hardly ever wavers on the price of its food court goods, it’s a sign that nothing is immune to inflation.
The store typically views the cheap food as a loss leader, helping attract and retain customers. Though the company reportedly loses money on its vaunted hot dog combo, executives have been resistant to raising the price. “If you raise [the price of] the effing hot dog, I will kill you,” Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal once said of a proposed price increase. “Figure it out.” The effing chicken bake, however, is another story.
It's too soon to tell how consumers may react, though Costco employees previously disclosed to Mental Floss that a shift at the food court can be stressful due to customer expectations over speedy pizza service. There is no telling what a chicken bake spike could mean.
The good news? While this is typically the time Costco would entertain a membership fee increase—the last, in 2017, set the basic fee at $60—the company said in May it has no plans to raise it.
[h/t Food & Wine]