In an era of rampant inflation and price gouging, one constant has remained unmoving for 30 years: the 99-cent tallboy can of Arizona Iced Tea. But how has this incredible soft drink managed to resist the tides of economic change? The LA Times spoke with the company's founder to unravel the mystery:
Gas is nearly six bucks a gallon. Groceries are 8% higher than last year. Dollar stores: now dollar-and-a-quarter stores.
But a giant, 23-ounce can of AriZona iced tea still costs 99 cents, the same price it has been since it hit the market 30 years ago. Today, that's cheaper than most bottled water, 20-ounce sodas, iced teas and canned coffees on the market. If you could fill your car up with cans of AriZona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey, it would be cheaper than L.A. gas by nearly 40 cents a gallon.
How does AriZona pull this off while everything else goes up? The price of aluminum has doubled in the last 18 months. The price of high fructose corn syrup has tripled since 2000. Gas prices are pumping up delivery costs. One 1992 dollar, adjusted for inflation, is worth two 2022 dollars. But the 99-cent Big AZ Can, as the company calls it, persists.
The short spoiler answer: the family-owned company has made a conscious choice to not be greedy assholes, and keep their customers loyal and happy instead. But the article goes more in-depth than this, including an examination of a study showing that prices ending in a "9" are more resistant to market changes overall. It's a surprisingly fascinating piece!
As inflation soars, how is AriZona iced tea still 99 cents? [Sam Dean / LA Times]