Arizona Iced Tea Founder Says He’ll Never Change the 99¢ Price and Explains Why

Arizona Iced Tea Cans

Photo: homank76/Depositphotos

People often recognize Arizona Iced Tea for its brightly colored cans, but have you ever noticed that its price has never changed? The variety of flavors of the sugary sweet tea have never had their price raised since it was founded in 1992 to compete with Snapple. Co-founder and chairman Don Vultaggio recently sat down to discuss the success of the company and the reason behind keeping its 99¢ price for 30 years.

In an interview with TODAY‘s Savannah Sellers, the Brooklyn-born Vultaggio explains why the company has opted to cut out expenses in the face of inflation in order to keep their cans at under a dollar.

“We’re successful. We’re debt-free. We own everything. Why? Why have people who are having a hard time paying their rent have to pay more for our drink?” he shares. “Maybe it’s my little way to give back.”

And happily, he doesn't see this philosophy changing in the foreseeable future. “We’re gonna fight as hard as we can for consumers.”

@todayshow #AriZonaIcedTea is notoriously still only 99 cents, despite rising prices across the food and drink industry. Owner Don Vultaggio explains why he is so adamant about the price staying under a dollar, and if that will change in the foreseeable future. #TODAYShow #3rdHourTODAY ♬ original sound – TODAY Show

Vultaggio's efforts are refreshing in an era when most CEOs only care about the bottom line. But perhaps this dedication to the consumer can be traced back to his roots. He grew up working-class, with his father working as the manager of a local A&P grocery store. He also began working at a grocery store as a teenager and then broke into the beverage industry as a truck driver in the 1970s.

He delivered Schlitz malt liquor to local stores. These large cans would later go on to inspire him to make Arizona Iced Tea's cans larger and taller than competitors. This experience also taught him the importance of pricing and staying consistent.

“To me, the worst day as a salesman is to go to a retailer and say, ‘Hey, by the way, I’m raising the price on that can today,’” Vultaggio says.

He realized that having a well-priced product helps the stores by having a wide-reaching effect on what they can earn.

“What you want to do is have a customer come in and get a fair value on a can of tea or juice and then buy other things in your store to offset those costs,” he told TODAY in a 2022 interview.

Today, Vultaggio is still brainstorming ways to keep the company efficient and profitable. Joined by his sons Wesley and Spencer, he's made Arizona Iced Tea a profitable family business that is a staple of American culture. And he's also proven that this success is possible without compromise.

Arizona Iced Tea co-founder Don Vultaggio is sharing the reasons behind the beverage's 99¢ price point.

Don Vultaggio with his sons Wesley and Spencer

Don Vultaggio with his sons Wesley and Spencer (Photo: Arizona Iced Tea)

Watch the full Today profile and learn more about the successful family-run business.

h/t: [TODAY]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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