It's not just the Costco $1.50 hot dog combo—4 products that have beaten inflation

Customers wait in line to order below signage for the Costco Kirkland Signature $1.50 hot dog and soda combo in Hawthorne, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

The widespread inflation that started around two years ago may not be so shocking to American consumers now. From April 2021 to March 2023, prices of consumer goods, from groceries to cars, rose an average of 13%.

Even if prices stayed the same for some of your favorite items, you might have noticed products getting smaller as shrinkflation spreads through the grocery aisles.

Thankfully for hungry shoppers, fitness fans and toy collectors alike, there are a few hallmark items that seem to be inflation-proof. These four items have maintained their prices throughout the latest inflation crisis and well before it.

AriZona's 99-cent iced tea cans

"For as long as we can, we're going to hold our price," AriZona chairman and founder Don Vultaggio told CNBC Make It in October about his company's iconic 99-cent cans of iced tea. 

For 30 years, customers have enjoyed a variety of flavors of the 23-ounce canned drinks while the company maintained its affordable price point.

The diverse offering of flavors is actually part of what helps keep the price stable, Vultaggio says. Rather than raising the price of one item, the company focuses on offering more products at a low price point.

Hot Wheels' $1 toy car

Hot Wheels toy cars have been able to hover around $1 since their inception. In fact, when you account for inflation, it's cheaper to buy a new Hot Wheels car today than it was 55 years ago.

The ubiquitous miniature model cars rolled out in 1968 and cost around 59 cents, which would be a little over $5 in today's dollars. Today, you can buy a single Hot Wheels car from Target for just $1.29. 

For comparison, a standard Hershey bar cost a dime in 1969, but would run you $1.32 at Walmart today.

Costco's $1.50 hot dog and soda combo

Not many companies pledge to never raise the price of an item, which is part of why the famous Costco $1.50 hot dog and soda combo gets so many headlines — especially when inflation is running rampant.

The affordable meal garnered attention over the years in part because a 2018 Mental Floss article quoted Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal telling CEO Craig Jelinek, "If you raise (the price of the) effing hot dog, I will kill you." 

Thankfully for shoppers and Jelinek's loved ones, Costco still hasn't changed the price. More recently, in 2022, when asked on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" if Costco would increase the cost of the combo, Jelinek simply said, "no."

Similarly, Costco has kept the price of its rotisserie chickens at $4.99 since 2009. Like the hot dog combo, the chickens are known as a "loss leader," or a product companies are willing to sell at a loss because its low price lures in customers who will likely buy other items as well. 

Planet Fitness' $10 per month membership

Finding an affordable way to stay in shape can be challenging when popular boutique options often charge upwards of $30 per class

However, national gym chain Planet Fitness has built a loyal following of members and continues to expand thanks, in part, to its consistently low basic membership fee. No matter where you are in the U.S., you can gain access to one of Planet Fitness' over 2,400 locations for just $10 a month.

"It's a 'get you off the couch' price," Planet Fitness CEO Christopher Rondeau told CNN last year. The low price is attractive to anyone who's not ready to spend a lot of money on a membership they may not use much.

Members who go to the gym frequently may decide to level up their membership to the $24.99 Black Card option to gain access to more amenities.

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