Typically, the image was framed as part of a larger, ongoing discussion about inflation. In April 2022, we examined earlier and equally viral discourse about the brand refusing to increase their iced tea prices above the longstanding 99 cent price tag:
In that fact check, we quoted an April 2022 interview with AriZona founder and chairman Don Vultaggio. In it, he affirmed that the company was firmly committed to the price point:
… But a giant 23-ounce can of AriZona iced tea still costs 99 cents, the same price it has been since it hit the market 30 years ago. Today, that’s cheaper than most bottled water, 20-ounce sodas, iced teas and canned coffees on the market. If you could fill your car up with cans of AriZona Green Tea with Ginseng and Honey, it would be cheaper than L.A. gas by nearly 40 cents a gallon.
How does AriZona pull this off while everything else goes up? The price of aluminum has doubled in the last 18 months. The price of high fructose corn syrup has tripled since 2000. Gas prices are pumping up delivery costs. One 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 answer: the company is making less money. The big cans are still profitable, but for the moment, they’re much less so than a few years ago.
Don Vultaggio, the 70-year-old, 6-foot-8 founder and chairman of the company, is choosing to take a haircut in order to keep the price flat and cans moving.
“I’m committed to that 99-cent price — when things go against you, you tighten your belt,” Vultaggio said on a Zoom call in early April from his headquarters on Long Island, N.Y. Even though his costs are higher, “I don’t want to do what the bread guys and the gas guys and everybody else are doing,” Vultaggio said. “Consumers don’t need another price increase from a guy like me.”
On June 21 2022, Google Trends data indicated searches for “AriZona Iced Tea” were popular. Related search terms included “AriZona iced tea price increase,” did AriZona iced tea go up in price,” and “AriZona iced tea price.”
Apparently, the AriZona brand Twitter account was tagged in threads about the purported price increase. In June 2022, @DrinkAriZona retweeted their own January 2021 tweet featuring the same image — presumably in response to recirculation of the same image:
In that 2021 tweet, the AriZona brand explained that the image represented cans of tea produced for the Canadian market. In retweeting it, AriZona said that their prices had not gone up to $1.29 a can:
PSA: Our recommended selling price for AriZona in the USA is still 99c! The can on the right is from Canada, where $1.29 converts to around 99c!
Don’t worry fam, we still got you ????????????
CAN $1.29 works out to about USD $.99, suggesting the company’s relative pricing was also static in Canada:
In June 2022, images of AriZona Iced Tea apparently priced at $1.29 a can spread virally, alongside claims the price of the beverage jumped from 99 cents to $1.29. The circulating image was from January 2021 or earlier, and discussions about global inflation seemed to revive interest in it. In June 2022, AriZona retweeted their initial response to the image, explaining the cans marked $1.29 were produced for sale in Canada, not the United States, where $1.29 was equivalent to $1 American.