Costco is a source of reliable bulk products for almost every aspect of our lives, from food to home furnishings, clothing, sports and leisure equipment and much more. Consumers appreciate not only the deep discounts that come from buying in bulk, but the consistency of products of a certain quality that they know they can count on.
However, like any corporate retailer, Costco has to make decisions about what products to keep selling and what products to take off shelves — decisions that might appear to consumers as arbitrary but which stem from marketing analysis the store makes about sales.
Here is a list of 10 items Costco has removed from shelves, options for where to get them elsewhere and reminders that it’s probably better not to purchase some of these items at all.
Chocolate-Dipped Ice Cream
Sometimes the simplest pleasures are the most popular. The $1.50 chocolate-dipped ice cream bar served at Costco food courts was discontinued to great customer outrage in favor of a churro snack item. Fans of the food even started their own Facebook page trying to exhort Costco to bring it back.
While it may not be the same as eating your ice cream right on the spot, Target sells a variety of chocolate-dipped ice creams, ranging from Klondike bars to Magnum, in six-packs and higher, in prices ranging from $3.49 to $4.19 for a pack of six.
Since 2016, Costco has been removing cigarettes and other tobacco products from sale. A Costco spokesperson told Money magazine, “Tobacco is a very low-margin business, tends to have higher theft and is labor intensive in some cases (due to local municipality regulations) — further, we felt we could better use the space to merchandise other items.”
The fact is, it’s getting harder and harder to buy cigarettes, as health initiatives encourage retailers to stop selling them. Some grocery stores and stores such as 7-Eleven still sell them, but outlets are dwindling.
Costco is doing its part in sustainability by removing any fish considered to be endangered, and is committed to working with fish and shellfish wholesalers who only use sustainable fisheries farming practices.
Fish they no longer sell include: Atlantic cod, Atlantic halibut, Chilean sea bass, shark, swordfish (sourced outside of U.S. fisheries) and bluefin tuna. It’s a good idea not to buy these endangered fish elsewhere as there are plenty of other kinds that are sustainably farmed.
Eggs From Caged Hens
Continuing in this effort toward sustainability and humane farming practices, Costco pledged to move to selling only cage-free eggs by the end of 2020. COVID-19 delayed this goal somewhat, but they continue to work toward this goal and hope to achieve it soon.
Since caging chickens to produce eggs comes under scrutiny for inhumane practices, it’s best for consumers to continue to buy their eggs cage-free. Additionally, research has shown that cage-free eggs “have lower levels of chemical residue from insecticides, lower levels of insect infestation and a lower concentration of dioxin-like contaminants,” according to The Poultry Site.
Half-Sheet Chocolate Cake
Costco discontinued its popular half-sheet chocolate cake in June 2020, likely as a result of decreased demand due to COVID-19. With fewer people able to get together in person to celebrate big events, these cakes were not selling very well. Instead, Costco has been pushing their 10-inch round cakes. However, as things begin opening back up, for people who need this size of cake, Walmart sells them for less than $20 (in-store purchase only).
Kirkland Signature Five-Pocket Jeans
Fashion ebbs and flows, and these jeans were pulled for a redesign, according to Yahoo News. However, the new design displeased consumers even more, who preferred what they called the original “dad jeans.” Unable to satisfy consumers, Costco pulled them and introduced the brand Urban Star instead.
Kirkland Signature Light Beer
Light beer lovers are passionate fans of their favorite brewskis, and sadly, Costco’s Kirkland brand signature light beer was just not a winner. As of 2018 they phased out the beer after receiving horrible reviews, including one that suggested the beer tasted like a “urine-soaked diaper.”
Fortunately, popular light beers like Corona and Bud Light are affordable and ubiquitous. A 12-pack of Corona Extra bottles is less than $14 at Walmart.
Polish Hot Dogs
If there’s one thing people are passionate about at Costco, it’s snacks from the food court. Perhaps all that shopping makes people work up an unusually big appetite. So it’s no surprise that customers were outraged when Costco removed their Polish hot dog from the food court menu — they even created a petition to have it restored (to no avail).
Truthfully, it will be hard to find other grocery stores during the pandemic that offer hot dogs on site, but a package of polish dogs at almost any grocery store usually runs under $5.
Monsanto’s weedkiller, Roundup, has been linked to cancer in humans. One couple even won a $2 billion lawsuit over such a claim, prompting Costco to pull the chemical killer off shelves and remove all products that contain glyphosate. Instead, consumers can buy non-toxic weed killer at places like Walmart for less than $30.
Though studded tires are effective at helping you drive snowy roads more safely, Costco discontinued them years ago because of concerns that the studs actually damage roadways. Instead, consider buying snow chains from Auto Zone, where they retail for less than $50.
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