Two & A Half Buck Chuck: Trader Joe's $1.99 Wine Days Are Over + Does it Need a Name Change?
Trader Joe's famous (Infamous?) wine, Two-Buck Chuck, is getting a 50 cent price hike. As reported in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the Charles Shaw label wine has retailed for $1.99 for more than a decade. Sources cited say that price was attainable in part due to a glut of grapes (we shall refrain from comment on the quality of those grapes). Low crop yields in 2011 and 2012 are also partly to blame for the price increase, and Trader Joe's public relations director Alison Mochizuki noted that "quite a bit has happened during those  years." Hard to argue with that one.
Fifty cents may seem like pennies (and in the wine world, it is). But according to NPR, Trader Joe's sold about 5 million cases last year, so it's potentially a cool two and a half million dollars in their pocket annually. Internet buzz suggests customers are less concerned about the new price, more about whether Trader Joe's will opt to change the Two-Buck Chuck nickname.
Regardless of what Trader Joe's decides, shoppers may very well make a new name viral on their own; "Inflation Chuck" and "Upchuck" were tossed out in that Press Democrat article. TJ customers are responsible for originally christening the wine Two-Buck Chuck (Suggestions? By all means, add them below).
We're betting that TJ's legal counsel is pressuring executives for a name change, even if it's only a nickname (the wine technically goes by its label, Charles Shaw). We live in an era when Subway is facing a class action lawsuit for false advertising after a customer took the time to measure 17 different "foot-long" sandwiches. (Really? Please go volunteer, feed the homeless, rescue some animals, do something useful.) It's only a matter of time before a TJ's customer sues over a wine that even the company widely advertises as "Two-Buck Chuck" actually clocking in at $2.49.
Dare we admit it, we'd actually be on the side of corporate marketing execs on that one. Hell, we might even buy a lousy "11-inch Footlong" to go with that rough glass of "Two-and-a-Half Buck Chuck," occupy the public library, invite the press, and make a toast to crappy dinners, bad wine and metaphors everywhere.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Los Angeles dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.