The Sustainable Economy of the 99 Cent Arizona Iced Tea Box

In an age of rampant inflation and price gouging, one constant has remained unchanged for 30 years: Arizona Iced Tea’s 99-cent tallboy can. But how has this incredible soft drink managed to withstand the tides of economic change? The LA Times sat down with the company’s founder to unravel the mystery:

Gas is nearly six dollars a gallon. Races are 8% higher than last year. Dollar Stores: Now dollar and quarter stores.

But a giant 23-ounce can of AriZona iced tea still costs 99 cents, the same price since hitting the market 30 years ago. Today, it’s cheaper than most bottled water, 20-ounce sodas, iced teas, and canned coffees on the market. If you could fill your car with cans of AriZona green tea with ginseng and honey, it would be cheaper than LA gasoline by nearly 40 cents a gallon.

How does AriZona pull this off when everything else goes up? The price of aluminum has doubled over the past 18 months. The price of high fructose corn syrup has tripled since 2000. Gasoline prices are driving up delivery costs. A 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 business made a conscious choice not to be greedy assholes and to keep its customers loyal and happy instead. But the article goes into more depth than that, including a review of a study showing that prices ending in a “9” are more resilient to changes in the market overall. It’s a surprisingly fascinating piece!

As Inflation Soars, How Does AriZona Iced Tea Still Cost 99 Cents? [Sam Dean / LA Times]

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