The Costco Food Court Hack That’ll Change the Rest of Your Summer

updated Jul 8, 2019
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Credit: Danielle Centoni

What are the crucial fixings for a hot dog? Ketchup and mustard, depending on who you ask? Maybe raw onions? Or relish and sauerkraut? Liquid cheese? That’s kind of it when it comes to the mainstream answers. Or so I thought. This past Sunday afternoon, with a hot dog in one hand and my phone in the other, I found this clever idea from CostcoDeals.

The idea of the post was simple: Hit up a Costco food court, order a hot dog, and ask the person behind the counter for a packet of red chili flakes and Parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle both packets (which are normally meant for pizza orders) directly onto the hot dog before adding the rest of your condiments.

Commenters were as floored as I was. How had none of us thought of this before?

Obviously, this would work on all hot dogs — not just Costco ones. So, with one last grilling session left before the end of the holiday weekend, I decided to give it a try for dinner. Doing so would mean that I’d have to eat hot dogs for two meals in a row, but there are worse things we have to do for work, right? Like most of us (I assume), I had grated Parm in the fridge and red pepper flakes in the pantry so I had no reason NOT to try it.

Credit: Lisa Freedman

I’m happy to say this idea is as brilliant as I had hopped it would be. The pepper flakes add a little kick but don’t overpower things. And the cheese? Well, cheese makes everything better. I went on to add ketchup and mustard (because I’m not a savage!) and the four toppings worked surprisingly well together. The slight tang of the cheese made the brown mustard more flavorful, and the heat from the pepper made the ketchup even richer. And the hot dog (from a little smokehouse in my town) benefited from all four. It makes sense when you think about it: Red pepper flakes and grated Parm work on a saucy pile of spaghetti and meatballs. Here, the bread is the pasta, the hot dog stands in for the meatballs, and the ketchup is like the sauce. (The mustard is just a bonus, and I promise it works!)

My husband tried it and said it’s like when I top vanilla ice cream with olive oil and flaky salt: It’s not totally necessary, but he’s pumped every time I do. Translation: The red pepper flakes and the Parmesan cheese will make it onto the patio for all of our subsequent cookouts this summer.

Have you ever tried this combination? Would you be willing to give it a try? Discuss in the comments below!