That Costco Hot Dog Might Cost You a Membership Fee

It appears the warehouse retailer may be cracking down on nonmembers using its food court
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2024 10:20 AM CDT
Craving a Costco Hot Dog? You May Need to Be a Member
The entrance to a Costco warehouse is seen on Feb. 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If popping over to your local Costco for a $1.50 hot dog and soda combo or $1.99 pizza slice is part of your affordable-lunch routine, you may need a membership soon for that. "There are some signs—literally—the laxity is coming to an end," USA Today notes of signals that the warehouse retailer is quietly cracking down on nonmembers entering to dine at its food court.

  • A clue: In a Reddit post earlier this month, someone posted a picture of a sign spotted in a Costco in Orlando, Florida, that announced: "Effective April 8, 2024, an active Costco membership card will be required to purchase items from our food court." Also in early March, TheStreet reported on pictures seen of similar signs in other Costco locations, though the outlet noted this "does not appear to be a uniform policy" at Costco.

  • The rules: Costco may have already had such a rule in place for years, though if so, it hasn't been enforcing it well. In February 2020, similar signs about the food court policy emerged, and a customer service rep told Fox Business that the policy existed but was "hard to enforce," due to some Costcos having outdoor food courts. An official Costco statement on the matter was never issued, however.
  • Reaction: Some Costco members are applauding the possible move, per USA Today. "$1.50 dogs are not a right," one Reddit user posted, while another praised the shorter lines at their local Costco, which seems to already enforce the rule. Others lamented the policy. "Oh man back when I was in college and too poor to have a membership I'd totally go there for lunch. ... I saved so much money!" one fan wrote.
  • $1.50 forever? The famously low price for a meal of frankfurter and pop has long drawn hungry nonpatrons in to Costco, and management has said it plans on keeping that price, possibly forever. In an older interview, then-CEO Craig Jelinek relayed a conversation with Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal, in which Jelinek told Sinegal that he couldn't keep selling the hot dog meal for so low a cost. Jelinek said Sinegal replied: "If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out."
(More Costco stories.)

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