Could Costco’s $1.50 Hot Dog Combo Go Away?

Costco’s $1.50 hot dog combo has achieved legendary status since it first appeared on the menu almost 40 years ago. The price has stayed the same through recessions, a housing crisis, and the recent sky-high inflation. During that time, Costco executives viewed the deal as part of the warehouse store’s DNA. So much so that it’s said the mere mention of a price hike sparked death threats among senior management.

But all good things come to an end. And changes at the top of the wholesale giant mean Costco’s hot dog combo deal is not quite as permanent as we thought.

What’s happening to Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and soda combo?

To be clear, you’ll still be able to pick up a $1.50 hot dog and soda for the foreseeable future. What’s changed is that the company is no longer saying it will stick with the deal, come hell or high water.

The company’s CFO, Richard Galanti, recently stepped down after nearly 40 years on the job. His replacement is Gary Millerchip, who’s been CFO at Kroger since 2019. Just a few years ago, Galanti used the word “forever” when talking to investors about the hot dog and soda price. But this March, he told Bloomberg, “It’s probably safe for a while.” That’s a long way from forever.

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The shift in the company’s hot dog stance is one thing. For regular Costco shoppers, the bigger question is what else might change. When a beloved brand starts tinkering with its core offering, bigger moves may be afoot. And if you’re a consumer worried about how much money is in your bank account, it’s worth paying attention.

The times, they are a-changin’ — even at Costco

Costco members will be used to shifts in its product range. Outside of its core offerings, one of the ways it keeps prices low is to switch things up with unexpected items and seasonal deals. For some, one of the joys of Costco is the way you can turn your regular shop into a treasure hunt.

A less welcome change Galanti touched on last year was the potential to increase membership fees. Galanti told investors, “It’s a question of when, not if.” Given that fees have not changed since 2017, there’s a good chance membership costs will rise in the near future.

Costco’s entry-level membership currently costs $60 a year. Regular customers will likely benefit from its executive membership at $120 a year, which includes 2% cash back on purchases. The company has also started to get stricter about its membership rules. For example, it is bringing in membership card scanners at the entrance of some stores. It is also asking to see people’s cards when they use the food court.

Check out our guide to Costco for ways to make the most of shopping at this retail giant.

Other changes to watch out for at Costco? The chain plans to open around 30 more U.S. stores this year. And it will expand its Costco Next offerings. This means members will be able to buy at low prices directly from even more suppliers. You can also expect further improvements to its app and online store.

Key takeaway

If you’re a long-time customer of any store, it’s natural to start to shop on autopilot. I could almost do my regular grocery shopping blindfolded as I reach for the same staples I cook with regularly. But items that were good value a few years ago may not still represent the best deals today — even more so when the leadership of a company changes.

Use price comparison apps and online stores to check prices while you shop. And don’t be afraid to shake things up a little yourself. Even if you’re a die-hard Costco shopper, see what other stores have to offer once in a while. It’s also worth trying own-label goods or occasionally testing cheaper brands. They often taste just as good and can free up cash for other things.

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