The Costco Founder Once Told The CEO He Would “Kill Him” If He Raised The Price Of Their $1.50 Hot Dog

Costco food court
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

It’s no secret that every American is feeling the weight of massive inflation, from insanely high gas prices, to the housing market, and even simply going to the grocery store.

But one place you’re not going to have to worry about shelling out more for a good meal is the Costco food court.

First off, Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal has been adamant (to say the least) about the company’s hot dog pricing for quite some time.

In fact, a while back, he told then-CEO Craig Jelinek that he would kill him if he ever raised the price.

The story goes, Craig approached the co-founder one time regarding the store’s need to raise the hot dog price. Sinegal was having none of it:

“I came to Jim once and I said, ‘Jim, we can’t sell this hot dog for a buck fifty. We are losing our rear ends.’ And he said, ‘If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out.’

That’s all I really needed. By the way, if you raised to $1.75, it would not be that big of a deal. People would still buy. But it’s the mindset that when you think of Costco, you think of the $1.50 hot dog.”

So maybe it’s just the fear of death that keeps the Costco CEO from raising prices, but nevertheless, the hot dog has remained at the glorious price of $1.50, and has been the fixed price since 1985.

And part of that reason is sentimental: Costco co-founder Jeffrey Brotman got his start operating a hot dog cart in Seattle, and before he passed away Sinegal made a promise to his late business partner to never raise the price of the hot dogs.

Even with a drastic rise in prices pretty much everywhere, the store has stood their ground.

Back in 2022, when he was asked by CNBC if he would even consider changing the price, Jelinek responded with one word that speaks absolute volumes:


And in January of 2020, he assured his stakeholders that regardless of the economy’s impact, the combo price isn’t gonna be touched, saying:

“We have no plans to take that hot dog above a buck fifty. End of story.”

In fact, Costco even built two factories, one in Chicago and one in Los Angeles, so that they could control weiner prices and keep from having to pay third-party markups, in order to keep the cost as low as possible.

Of course that doesn’t mean that all prices in the Costco food court have stayed the same. The price of the company’s chicken bake has raised from $2.99 to $3.99, while the 20-ounce sodas have “spiked” from $0.59 to $0.69.

Ya can’t win ’em all, but it’s pretty wild that you can go to Costco and about buy a couple of hot dogs for the same price as a 16-oz. Coke at your local gas station.

Costco for the win.

Now, if only they could bring back Kirkland Signature Light:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock