People are very sensitive about grocery shopping. Allegiances can be as fiercely defended as those to football teams. Costco seems to inspire everything from ardour to disgust to benign curiosity. I have been a member since it first opened and truthfully was not sure if I would keep my membership at first. As time has gone on, the management has evidently responded to Australian buying habits and the product range keeps getting better and better. So, trolley loaded with free range chicken, organic milk and antioxidant-rich blueberries, what better for lunch than a Costco hot dog?
Yes, I know what you are thinking - how could you?? I blame nostalgia. Hot dogs are a huge part of the American summer experience. Just as you wander the backstreets of suburban Melbourne in summer and the unmistakable, sinfully-delicious waft of barbecuing el-cheapo breakfast sausages fills the air, the lure of an American hot dog is just as wrong and just as strong. The meat is highly processed and the bun that cakey, aerated McDonalds bread, but they put me straight back in Wrigley Field in Chicago, organ pipes playing between the commentator's snappy calls, the ivy rustling gently in the lakeshore breeze as a baseball game plays on.
Mmmm, $2.49 worth of memories. They are not quite the hot dogs I recall (Chicago is famous for its 100% beef hot dogs) but they are damn close.
I am ashamed to say I have partaken of other Costco food court delights. The pizza slices are gargantuan and I found them far too oily and (in the case of the cheese pizza) somewhat bland. The "Korean" "beef bulgogi bake" (yes, HOW CAN I CALL MYSELF A FOODIE) is far, far too rich - a kind of greasy calzone stuffed with beef, cheese and onion.
So what's in the trolley? Costco is really about discounting premium brands rather than beating generic prices, although in some cases it does manage to do that. This does mean that you have to buy a lot, ie, 24 muesli bars at a time, three-packs of shampoo or 1 kg frozen berries. It works for us but if you were a smaller household, you would need to weigh up the initial outlay, the expiry date and the boredom factor to consider if it would work for you.
Costco have always sold packs of Steggles or Baiada chicken pieces, plus whole Lilydale free range chooks. I have regularly left feedback asking them to stock free range fillets and one day received a phone call telling me that they would indeed do that. Unreal! Indeed, they are stocking more and more free range and organic lines which I think is reflective of the variety of people who shop at Costco - some come for the buckets of Maltesers, others for the wild Alaskan salmon. But everyone stays for the hot dogs.