Monday, May 23, 2011

Hot dogs at Costco

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?

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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.

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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.


  1. ah, the taste of wrigley field! i lived on the north side for 2 years and remember the hot dogs + Old Style fondly. i'm feeling really ignorant now having not known you're also American!

    anyway, i took my Australian boyfriend to the DC store last summer while visiting my fam. he was hooked and roped us into membership here. you're right - they respond well to customers! we buy the chicken breasts in bulk, divvy them up and freeze them. and love those berries, too.

    great, nostalgic post :)

  2. I will "come out" too....I have partaken in the guilty pleasure of a Costco hot dog (or two)...with all the trimmings as your photo suggests.

    How can a relish that is so luminously green work so well!?

    I wish they would reduce the oil/cheese in their pizzas though.

  3. Hah, I've been a member since Costco opened as well (I went on the first night it opened... how sad!) and almost every single trip I make there ends with a hot dog or pizza at the food court! I quite like the pizzas, though I do tend to mop up a bit of the oil with a napkin.

  4. Am glad they are responding to consumer requests. If they got free range chill there then I might be able to tolerate a visit. Lol I'll prob love it and become a convert.

  5. Hmmmm i don't know why there's a sence of shame when it comes to eating food like this. It makes me feel a little sad actually :(

    Food is food (and i am aware people will totally disagree with me), stuff we put in our mouths and swallow, and yes we eat good things but at times we also like the bad stuff.
    It ain't shameful :) And why should it be?
    Don't get me wrong, i know there is bad food out there and yeah, it can be quite tasty sometimes hehehe :)

    I don't think being a 'foodie' is about only eating 'good' food and discarding the 'bad' food. Or feeling embarrassed or shameful that we ate and perhaps actually enjoyed it.

    Whats so bad about a little cheapo treat here and there :) Let's celebrate it! Because we all know, that all or most of us, secretly enjoy the 'badies' once in a while.

  6. Ha it's true, we all have our own dirty food secrets. Have been wanting to investigate Costco since it first opened and didn't even realise they have their own little food court, the hot dog actually looks quite good!

  7. Guilty food pleasures can be so much fun, and Costco is full of them. Another one is their Kirkland "American Cheese" slices...amazing on home made burgers.

  8. yasmeen, I am Aussie but my husband is American. I love the States and have spent a lot of time there (you can read some US foodie posts by clicking on the tag 'USA' in the list of tags in the sidebar) I do the same thing with the chicken breasts!

    Andrew, yes! I am glad I am a closeted Costco food courter no longer. I know the American cheese well, aka "dad's orange cheese"

    Agnes... I was there the first night too!!! So we can be sad together! :)

    Bryan come along with me one time! It is not as evil and consumerist as people think. I am probably a more mindful shopper there as I have to think, "Do I really want eighteen muffins" versus "oh go on, one won't hurt"

    Marine you are absolutely right. After all didn't Matt Preston take Anthony Bourdain to one of those roadside kebab vans as an example of classic Melbourne food??!!

    Maddy yes we all surely do! Mine include whole tubs of Chris' spring onion dip imbibed with a box of Savoys. Ohhhh yes. You can get a visitor's pass if you want to check Costco out.

  9. I have yet to visit Costco... Afraid that I might just get stuff that I don't really need or just stocking up on stuff.

  10. I've eyed of the costco snack bar each time we've gone, am going to have to try the hot dogs i think. My guilty pleasure is a chiko roll. There is a cafe near work that has the deep frier churning out food, so they are not sitting in a bain marie for too long and are crispy and yum. I have about 2 or 3 a year..delish!!

  11. thanks for clearing that up Lauren :) i'll check out your USA posts! what keeps me coming back for more are all the great ones you have about local haunts. your blog has been so helpful to me, learning what to seek out in the western suburbs... and even for the boyfriend who is from here, but who has lived abroad for many years. thank you!

  12. I always enjoy in a dawg after I pickup my 60 rolls of toilet paper.


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