Food-and-Drink – Eternally Linked

In the proverbial question of the chicken or the egg, the operative word is or. One came first or the other came first – not both. Same with the game of chess; you choose to be the black or the white, not every piece on the board.  And the song you selected this morning to begin your morning commute? It was one of your favorites, not two (unless you found a mashup). So it boggles my find to discover, at Costco of all places, you can have a hot dog and a soda… just not or. It’s food and drink – or it’s nothing at all.

It’s been a while since I’ve shopped at Costco, so last Sunday’s visit felt like more than just a battle for space in the aisles.  Featured items seemed new and interesting and the free samples beckoned more than usual.  My wife and I go to Costco for paper goods, produce, wine, and not much else, so we made it to check-out sooner than most, but there was still a pretty good line of people.  While we waited, I realized Costco is savvy with its store layout.  Approaching the cashier, you face… the food court.  On this day, the court was b-u-s-y, with just about every seat taken.

I never ever patronize the food court at Costco (I like to think I lean healthier) but something triggered my brain this time around.  Just after July 4th a local radio host commented how “Costco hot dogs are the best, and believe me, I know hot dogs.”  Suddenly a Costco hot dog sounded pretty good!  So I asked my wife to stay in line while I pursued our spur-of-the-moment lunch.  A lot of people were standing by the counters (looking nothing like a line) and I realized they were already waiting for orders.  You see, at Costco you self-order on a computer screen – just touch the picture of the food or drink you want and insert a credit card.

Pepperoni pizza.  Hot turkey and provolone sandwich. “Chicken bake”.  Caesar salad.  Hot dog and a soda.  Ice cream.  Those are pretty much your choices at Costco.  The menu isn’t big and it’s certainly not your dietician’s recommendation, but it’s what the average Costco patron wants.  Just not this patron.  Not quite.

“Inseparable”

You Costco regulars already know this.  A hot dog and a 20 oz. soda at the food court is only $1.50.  Always has been and purportedly always will be.  But here’s the rub.  The computer screen doesn’t offer a picture of a hot dog.  You’ll only find a hot dog with a soda.  But there’s also a soda without a hot dog.  In what world of logic does this make sense?  I want a hot dog, Costco sells hot dogs, but I can only have one if I buy a 20 oz. soda as well.  But I don’t want a soda…

This quickly became a matter of principle (as you might expect).  I mean, $1.50 is reasonable for a hot dog so why not just go for the combo and throw away the empty soda cup, right?  Yeah, I wish it were that easy for me.  I challenged a couple of Costco employees about it back in the checkout line, and both said, “That’s the way it’s always been. It’s a nod to tradition. They’ll never change the price and they’ll never unlink the hot dog and the soda”.  When I pointed out that, hey, you could buy a soda on its own (but not a hot dog on its own), that made them pause.  A little.

Scold me now, please.  There’s a war going on in Eastern Europe.  Food and gas prices are through the roof.  The U.S. is experiencing one of its hottest summers in decades with states forced into rolling blackouts.  Meanwhile, I’m pitching fits because I can’t buy a hot dog all by itself at Costco.

Fittingly, you get the last laugh.  My wife and I pulled out of the Costco parking lot and still had a taste for a hot dog, and the only place we could think of was a little sports bar in my mother-in-law’s neighborhood.  So we go there and I order a hot dog with fries while my wife opts for the bratwurst with Tater Tots. (and yes, for those of you keeping score I could’ve ordered this hot dog all by itself).  Then the cashier rings up the order and says, “That’ll be $30.00” (not $1,50, not $3.00 – thirty bucks).  And how was my hot dog?  Delicious, actually. I’d have the same thing again nex time.  I just need to stop thinking about how I could’ve had twenty Costco hot dogs (and a bunch of empty soda cups) for the same price.

25 thoughts on “Food-and-Drink – Eternally Linked

      1. Haha. I’m sure the hot dog you had was much better than the one at Costco, which is more like a nostalgic nod to the past. Although I was just thinking I havent had soda in ages, so maybe I will have both next time I go back to the States and visit Costco 😛

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Shame on me, I forgot you are abroad! Your earlier comment about missing Costco hot dogs coupled with your “sunnydaysinseattle” had me wondering why a person can’t get a Costco hot dog in the company’s HQ city 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  1. We haven’t been to Costco (Canada) for quite a while, but will have to go there to check out the price of a hot dog!
    We were at Starbucks yesterday to pick up Lattes and cookies to take to a 92 year old relative who prefers Starbucks. Two Lattes and three cookies – about $20. The largest Latte at McDonalds is $3.39; a whole muffin is $1.43… but when a 92 year old lady says she likes Starbucks the best, you don’t argue…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I relate to your relative, Margy. Starbucks is one of those name brands for me where consistency and variety trump price. I can always count on a quality product and a good customer service experience no matter what location I visit. For that reason I’m willing to pay more. For my budget’s sake, just not very often 🙂

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    1. I wish they’d offer a bottled water as an option, Lyssy. Instead it’s self-service soda. It’s in my head and I have to get over it. $1.50 is a great deal for a big hot dog and a paper cup 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The hot dogs are our reward for braving shopping at Costco. Dog and a Diet Coke for $1.50? Makes you forget the rest of the trip! BTW, they also keep the roasted chickens cheap for the same reason…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a nice spin on it because I’ve never made it through Costco and thought, “Gee, that was fun!” I’ll make a point to reward myself next time for surviving.

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  3. Wow that’s quite a difference in the price, but sometimes you just have to take a stand on principle. No one needs 20 oz. of soda. Some fast food places will let you substitute something else on the menu for the soda if you ask.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gave up soda a long, long time ago so I’d rather not start drinking it again, Joni. Maybe I’ll try the Costco hot dog some time and just hand the cup to someone else for a free soda.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave, I have never been to Costco, even though I shop in bulk every September and October to “lay in provisions” for the Winter so I don’t have to do big grocery shoppings in the snow and ice. Before the pandemic, all Home Depot stores around here had a hot dog stand which always beckoned you to stop (or at least sniff appreciatively) when the wonderful smell of dogs wafted toward you in their entryway. They shut down that nicety for good and I’m sure many contractors made the Home Depot a quick lunch stop during their day. I’m not a pop drinker either. My parents didn’t allow it due to the sugar content (although they thought juice was okay, which is loaded with just as much sugar), so I can’t remember the last time I had pop/soda, likely at a luncheon at work when sandwiches and pop were served. I don’t know what the big deal is with substitutions anyway, but at least you didn’t pitch a fit like Jack Nicholson’s character did over the toast/chicken salad in “Five Easy Pieces”. 🙂 I never saw the movie, but when I began working at the diner, there was a huge sign “no substitutions” and customers would recount his tirade in the movie. I finally Googled to see what they were talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I remember those Home Depot hot dog stands, Linda. I wonder if COVID put them out of business or if Home Depot made the decision on their behalf? Unlike Costco, I did buy a few hot dogs at Home Depot. I was raised the same as you when it came to soda. It was never in our frig or pantry and only made available to us at parties, amusement parks, or fast food (none of which happened very often). I drank my share of soda in college and years after, but eventually I weaned myself off of it when I realized there were far healthier drink choices out there. Today I get through most days with coffee and water, and the occasional glass of wine.

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      1. I used to go to Home Depot more often Dave, then a Lowe’s opened up near me, so I go there instead now. I just Googled to see if they resumed selling hot dogs – tons of stories (from here in Michigan) and people are mad. They closed initially in March 2020 due to the pandemic, then told the vendors they would not return.

        “In March 2020, our in-store food vendors were asked to close for the safety of customers and associates, and the decision has been made to suspend food vendor operations in Michigan so we can focus on serving customers with their home improvement needs,” Cornell said.”

        Sounds like they need to resume that nicety doggone it! I’m just as glad my parents were strict about the pop and candy, so I never craved it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. A hilarious story, Dave–for us your readers, that is. Not so much for you. In fact, I’m a bit surprised you can tell the story so soon after the ludicrous event!! But maybe some Costco VIP will see your post and reconsider their policy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mine might be a one-person campaign, Nancy. I think 99.9% of Costco shoppers are just fine with the pairing and the price. Oh well; on to other endeavors 🙂

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  6. I am a frequent Costco shopper and occasional food court customer. My menu item of choice is the Chicken Bake. I’m ok with the pizza too (it’s not great pizza, but I’ve had worse). Maybe I’m weird about hot dogs, but I don’t like the ones at Costco. I like the skinny, pale ones that are not the all beef version that seems to predominate. I wish I liked it because I appreciate a good bargain.

    I’m with you on the soda, I wish they would offer a seltzer water or something besides the syrupy sodas in very few varieties.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to get input on the other items on the Costco food court menu, J.P. Before your comment I would’ve believed nobody goes to the court for anything other than a hot dog and a soda. And yes, they’d make a little more money off me if they also offered bottled water.

      Liked by 1 person

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