Um, Does Costco Expect Me to Pour Milk from These?

(Image credit: Philip Arno Photography)

Costco is pretty much king of kings when it comes to bulk items. There’s unnaturally large tubs of cream cheese, mammoth teddy bears, and pallets of salmon as big as your bed. Costco is also a great place to score your supermarket staples, from butter to batteries. With so much fantastic stuff coming out of the bulk-item juggernaut, there’s hardly been any reason to complain about them.

Well, that is, unless you buy the milk there.

Costco’s Square Milk Jug Is Abysmal

Reddit discussion boards have been abuzz with complaints about Costco’s milk —and it’s not the actual milk that’s the problem. (We maintain that Costco milk is fresh, tastes no different than milk elsewhere, and the price is, as with all things, Costco fantastic.)

The problem lies with the packaging. If you have ever bought one of those odd-looking square jugs of milk, you may immediately know what the issue is: the things are awfully hard to pour.

“75% of the time they leak and leak badly when pouring. Is it just me?” said user JeepCJ in aptly titled Reddit group “How To Pour Costco Milk Without Spilling?”. (It ain’t just you. It’s always an acrobatic trick when I try to pour from those things.) “These seem to be designed without the consumer in mind.”

In fact, they’re so difficult to pour from that people have been complaining about the design since they were introduced in 2008 as a more environmentally friendly option than the normal milk jug. In the boxy jug’s beginnings, the design was adopted not only by Costco, but also by Sam’s Club and Walmart, all with similar results.

“When we brought in the new milk, we were asking for feedback, and they’re saying, ‘Why’s it in a square jug? Why’s it different? I want the same milk. What happened to my old milk?'” said Heather Mayo, vice president for merchandising at Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart, to The New York Times.

Why Do These Jugs Exist, Anyway?

So why have we slummed a decade with the square jug, even though consumers took immediate issue with them? There are a few reasons. First, the jugs are stackable, which eliminates the need for milk crates. Did you know that Pennsylvania Dairy alone spent $6 million dollars replacing milk crates in 2005, mostly because people had been stealing them?

The New York Times also quotes a dairy man named Greg Soehnlen who said that just washing milk crates (which birds liked to roost in … ew) used 100,000 gallons of water daily. The new boxy design, which Soehnlen actually had a hand in designing, also fits 9 percent more product in the same space, which is greener when you factor in gas and transport.

This is all well and good for cost, labor, and the environment, but one wonders why a little design update hasn’t been considered yet. Your faithful consumers beg you, Costco: Update the spout, at least?