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22 Things You Never Knew About the Costco Food Court

You love it, you visit it often, but how much do you really know about your local Costco food court?

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Norwalk, California, USA - April 27, 2016: Customers are having food purchased at the food court of Costco, the largest membership-only warehouse in the United States.; Shutterstock ID 412756606Supannee_Hickman/Shutterstock

It would seriously take us days to sit down and think of all the reasons we love Costco. But near the top of the list, we’d confidently write “THE FOOD COURT.” From the delicious pizza to the tasty hot dog and soda combo, we can’t get enough.

Ever wonder how the food court got started and which menu items are most popular? Read on to find out 20 surprising facts you didn’t know about Costco food courts. And don’t miss the 15 secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

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FOLSOM, CA, USA - OCT 8, 2018: Costco food court by the new self serve kiosk full of customers .; Shutterstock ID 1200836155; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHCassiohabib/Shutterstock

The hot dog and soda combo has been $1.50 since 1984.

Costco began selling its famous hot dog and soda combo in the early ’80s, and thanks to several cost-savvy business moves (and a dedication to the Costco consumer), the prices haven’t changed in more than three decades. Here are 5 more perks only Costco shoppers know about.

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It’s one of the largest pizza chains in the US

With more than 400 locations, Costco ranks in the top 20 pizza chains in the country. It has more shops than California Pizza Kitchen or Jet’s for comparison. See what our editors’ favorite pizza chain is.

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Automated pizza sauce delivery system with MOTION BLUR.; Shutterstock ID 1334030297; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHvincent noel/Shutterstock

Pizza sauce is applied by a neat robot.

Ever wonder why the pizzas at Costco are always on point with the sauce-to-cheese ratio? It’s because they’ve got pizza-making down to a science—literally. Costco uses a hypnotic robot to apply pizza sauce evenly. Don’t miss more reasons why Costco’s pizza tastes so good.

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Woman at the supermarket checkout, she is paying using a credit card, shopping and retail concept; Shutterstock ID 503419588Stokkete/Shutterstock

You can pay for food at the register, then show your receipt at the food court.

Your card is out, you’re paying for your Costco groceries—and you’re not really looking forward to having to pull out your wallet again to have the food court worker charge your credit card $1.50. Good news! You can tell the cashier ringing you out whatever you want to purchase from the food court, then show your receipt at the food court to pick up your meal. Just remember to ask politely; You wouldn’t want to end up on our list of 11 things that frustrate every grocery store employee.

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chicken cakesvia costco.com

Fresh chicken bakes are different from frozen chicken bakes.

Chicken bakes are one of the staple items on the Costco food court menu. However, the ones you’d find in the food court aren’t quite the same as the ones sold in the freezer section. The difference? The food court bakes are made from fresh ingredients and leftover pizza dough. Check out the 36 other frozen foods you should always buy at Costco.

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Poutine being eaten with forks; Shutterstock ID 797302909; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHHabib Sajid/Shutterstock

Menu options change depending on where you live.

For example, did you know that Costco locations in Canada sell poutine? And P.S.—Canadians swear by it. Depending on where you live in the world, you may be treated to other regional favorites, like meat pies in Australia, and teriyaki bowls in South Korea.

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Two hot dogs with ketchup closeup , yellow mustard and onion on gray wooden surface; Shutterstock ID 263142953; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHAri N/Shutterstock

Costco makes its own hot dogs.

From the ’80s to the mid-2000s, Costco used kosher hot dogs supplied by two separate companies. Seeing prices soar while demand for their food court hot dogs rose, Costco decided to test out its own recipe. In 2009, Costco started producing its 1/4 lb. all-beef hot dog and using it across all food courts. Want to dress up your dog? Here are the best hot dog toppings you haven’t tried yet.

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The secret to their fresh chicken bakes is… Caesar dressing

Costco’s food court chicken bakes have a cult following. What’s not to love? Cheese, pizza dough, chicken, mozzarella and green onion is a lot of yum. But what makes these dough pockets so good is a schmear of Caesar dressing. It provides that bit of salt, creaminess and what-is-that?-ness that we love.

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Norwalk, California, USA - April 27, 2016: Customers are purchasing food with low price at the food court of Costco, the largest membership-only warehouse in the United States.; Shutterstock ID 413085085; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHSupannee_Hickman/Shutterstock

Food court fans are very passionate.

As with most fandoms, Costco food court aficionados don’t like when menu items are removed from the store. There are a number of petitions on Change.org dedicated to fan-favorite menu items that are no longer available, like the Polish Dog and the Very Berry Smoothie.

Don’t have a membership yet? Check out the 7 things you can do at Costco without one.

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Churros. Deep Fried Bread Dough in Hot Boiling Oil with Cinnamon and sugar. ; Shutterstock ID 1173562132; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHmikeledray/Shutterstock

If your food’s not hot, you can request replacements.

Did you get a cold churro? You can return to the food court and ask for a replacement at no charge. Food court employees—like all members of the service industry—respond to kindness, so be sure to listen to mom’s voice in your head and say “please.” Turns out, the food court isn’t the only place to chow down at Costco. Learn the 21 secrets Costco’s free sample employees wish you knew.

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Grated cheese in a glass bowl; Shutterstock ID 365625941; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHGamzova Olga/Shutterstock

Each pizza is made with 1.5 pounds of cheese.

You read that right—a whopping 24 ounces of cheese is added to each pizza. According to the Costco Connection, each cheese pizza features a blend of low-fat mozzarella, provolone and freshly grated Parmesan.

Love cheese like we do? Check out 101 cheese recipes we crave the most.

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TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 15, 2018: Line of a people at customer service desk in a Costco store. Costco, is an American corporation which operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs.; Shutterstock ID 1182944260dennizn/Shutterstock

Costco treats its food court employees well (and yes—they eat the food).

The corporation offers a wide variety of benefits to its staff members, making the work environment pleasurable for most. During a Reddit AMA, a Costco food court employee confessed to eating the food all the time, and that while employees don’t get an employee discount, they do get an executive membership. Find out more true confessions from a former Costco employee.

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Churros with sugar and chocolate sauce . top view ; Shutterstock ID 1035673351; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHnelea33/Shutterstock

You can find Costco food court recipes in the Costco Connection.

Costco produces a free magazine—the Costco Connection—that features information about the company, human interest stories and recipes that use their Kirkland signature brand ingredients. You can even find recipes inspired by food court favorites, like dipping sauces for churros. What’s more, you can find a copycat recipe for homemade churros here.

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classic hot dog with mustard and ketchup and cola holding in hands; Shutterstock ID 68139490; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHOlga Nayashkova/Shutterstock

The hot dog and soda combo is the most popular item on the menu.

Is it really surprising? For just $1.50 you can get a hot dog and a soda—at most places, you can’t even get a soda alone for that price. CNN reported that Costco sold more than 135 million combos in 2017.

If you’re suddenly craving hot dogs, try mixing it up with one of these ways to make hot dogs more fun.

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Fresh baked pepperoni pizza, shallow depth of field; Shutterstock ID 522293875Anatoly Vartanov/Shutterstock

You can pre-order pizza while you shop.

Friday and Saturday nights are prime pizza time. Customers at Costco can expect a good 20 to 30-minute wait when ordering a pie on one of these nights—but did you know you can order your pizza before you shop? Head to the food court and place your order, then complete your errands. Or, if you prefer, you can call ahead and place your order over the phone.

Try one of our top 10 pizza recipes next time you want to make this dish at home.

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Acai Bowl with fruits ; Shutterstock ID 1217498635; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHCassiohabib/Shutterstock

One menu slot is always left open for tester items.

The Costco menu staples—like pizza, hot dogs and chicken bakes—aren’t going anywhere, but Costco always leaves one slot open for rotating foods. For example, several locations have been testing cheeseburgers, while California warehouses have been serving acai bowls.

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Caesar salad in round black lunchbox on wooden bacground; Shutterstock ID 1315532318; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHRover stock/Shutterstock

The food court menu isn’t the healthiest.

As much as we look forward to the day when pizza gets acknowledged as a healthy dinner, today is not that day. (It is healthier than cereal, though!) Costco’s food court options are not on the healthy side, but there are a few options that are lower on the calorie count. Opt for the chicken Caesar salad or an acai bowl if you’re looking for a healthy meal.

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Lots of Nutrition facts. Close-up.; Shutterstock ID 222204745Ekaterina_Minaeva/Shutterstock

You can request nutrition information from employees.

If you’re curious about the nutritional contents of your meal, you can ask for it! Food court employees can provide you with a printout that has all the information you need.

Check out low-calorie dinners that make it easy to eat healthy.

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MONTREAL, CANADA - OCTOBER 5, 2018: A hand holding a receipt with the brand name and logo in Costco warehouse. Costco is an American corporation which operates a chain of membership only warehouses.; Shutterstock ID 1280270092; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHdennizn/Shutterstock

Costco’s food court is dedicated to keeping prices low.

Those low prices? Costco has no intention of raising them anytime soon. In fact, Costco goes out of its way to make sure external factors don’t force price increases. The club started making its own hot dogs to prevent having to purchase them from suppliers who were raising prices, plus it made the switch from Coca-Cola to Pepsi products after those prices rose, as well. Keeping to a tight budget? These dinner recipes are easy on your wallet.

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Friends Eating Fast Food At The Mall; Shutterstock ID 319297631; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHzeljkodan/Shutterstock

The food court is a hot date spot.

The food court at Costco brings people together. For example, one couple from San Diego went on their first date in the food court, then got married there three years later. And Costco was into it—they set up chairs, created paper bouquets and scattered rose petals for the couple.

If you manage to snag that second date, impress with one of these date night-worthy dinners.

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Fresh baked pepperoni pizza, shallow depth of field; Shutterstock ID 522293875Anatoly Vartanov/Shutterstock

Every pepperoni pizza has exactly 60 slices.

We’ve already talked about the robot—you remember that precision is key, but did you know Costco gets this particular when prepping its pepperoni pizza? The Costco Connection from August 2011 revealed this secret. It also revealed that the combo pizza weighs a whopping 4.49 pounds. Be sure to see the 15 things you aren’t buying at Costco, but definitely should.

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Street stall to sell hot dogs. Customer holding a hot dog purchased. ; Shutterstock ID 328465880"MILA Zed"/Shutterstock

The food court started with one hot dog stand.

It should come as no surprise that the food that sparked the Costco food court was the hot dog. In 1984, Costco hired a hot dog vendor to sell outside of its San Diego warehouse. By the late ’80s, Costco opened its first food court—Cafe 150—that sold a hot dog and soda combo for $1.50. If that has you feeling nostalgic, take a step back in time to see the first locations of the most famous fast food restaurants.

Kate Ellsworth
Kate is an avid baker, knitter and writer. Her passions include Star Wars, stress baking and—of course—chocolate. When she's not chasing her partner around the house asking him to try her latest recipe, Kate is probably knitting (another) sweater.

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