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Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Costco's $1 Hot Dog


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Costco is a magical and often mysterious place. Ever since the company first opened a Seattle warehouse in 1983, bulk shopping has never been easier--or cheaper. While retailers such as Amazon have done their best to encroach on the bulk product market,
Costco still has a few things that the online retailer lacks, namely a food court and some fan-favorite foods.

Costco's beloved food court began in 1992, in tandem with Kirkland Signature (their private label brand), in an effort to offer quality products at discounted prices. To this day, the supermarket offers Costco members great deals on ready-made food, and many fans are enamored by their offerings, which include perfectly twisted churros, incredibly cheap pizza, and beef chili with beans. However, few Costco food court items hit the spot like the Costco hot dogs, which at $1.50 each, remain a fan-favorite for both the taste and the price tag.

Even better? The Costco hot dog and 20-ounce drink combo has remained $1.50 since 1985--and that includes refills. According to Mental Floss, the price is here to stay: When W. Craig Jelinek, the company's current CEO, approached Costco co-founder and previous CEO, Jim Sinegal, with the idea of raising the price of the signature hot dog. The former CEO responded, "If you raise (the price of the) effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out."

100% Pure-Beef Hot Dogs

In fact, while the price hasn't changed, the Costco hot dog is about 10 percent thicker than the original quarter-pound version in 1984. And the dogs are 100% beef--In fact, in 2008, Costco stopped advertising Hebrew National as the supplier and began featuring Kirkland Brand beef hot dogs in Costco food court.

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Apart from being a 100% pure beef hot dog, Costco's hot dogs don't have by-products, corn syrup, phosphates, fillers, or artificial colors or flavors. One could say that they can get away with using less additives because they sell so many each year, but really it just proves the quality of Kirkland Signature.

It's All About Volume

While the dollar dogs don't do Costco any favors with the low price tag, it pays dividends by adding to the foot traffic in the store. In an increasingly online world, the food court of Costco is one of the major draws that helps shoppers and membership holders justify the expense.

In 2015 alone, Costco sold 128 million hot dogs. They tend to sell, on average, 100 million hot dogs yearly. That's more than four times the number of hot dogs than all of those sold at MLB stadiums each years. That's a mouthful, so let's break it down: If you combined yearly hot dog sales from every Major League Baseball stadium in the U.S., Costco will have outsold them four times over.

The dollar dogs don't do Costco any favors with the low price tag, but it pays dividends by adding to the foot traffic in the store. In an increasingly online world, the food court of Costco is one of the major draws that helps shoppers and membership holders justify the expense.

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Before the food court, there was a hot dog cart

Jay de Geus ran the hot dog cart outside of the San Diego, California warehouse for a number of years before it moved to include food courts in its design. The hot dog cart was gifted to Costco from Hebrew National.

Today the hot-dog-and-soda combo is by far the food court's most popular buy, followed by the pizza, frozen yogurt, and sandwiches. And many fans swear that the steamed buns make the difference: Costco chefs from the food court steam the bun (and the dog!), which results in a soggier dog when wrapped in foil and handed over. However, many feel that's one of the benefits of the Costco hot dog.

If you're ordering a dog today, don't be fools by the lack of condiment dispensers: Some stores may have phased out the communal onion and sauerkraut, you can still ask for these toppings on your hot dog at the counter. They come free of charge, too.

While the warehouse store might not make any money on your dollar dog, but it's certainly luring you in with the promise of a dirt-cheap lunch or family dinner that'll keep the kids satisfied while you browse.

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READ MORE: 10 Costco Membership Benefits You Might Not Know About

This article was originally published on June 29, 2018.

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