The Story Behind Costco’s $1.50 Hot Dog Deal

published Feb 27, 2018
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Costco became a global icon by offering some of the best deals a person could find. Whether it’s selling a cookie butter cheesecake the size of a wagon wheel, or four-and-a-half pounds of its own version of Nutella for $7.99, Costco has some wonderful affordable offerings. And probably the best steal in the whole building is the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo at the Costco food court.

Costco’s hot dogs are an amazing deal. For just $1.50, you can get a quarter-pound hot dog and a refillable fountain drink. And it turns out there’s a lot of cool history behind Costco’s famous food court combo.

According to Mashed’s Karen Miner, Costco’s food courts actually started as a Hebrew National hot dog cart parked in front of a Costco warehouse in San Diego in 1984. Costco was testing out the idea of food service, and it turned out to be an enormous success. Costco now sells more than 100 million $1.50 hot dogs every year. The hot dogs are the same price, but they’re actually about 10 percent bigger now than when Costco started selling them.

One-hundred million times $1.50 comes out to 150 million dollars a year, but Costco doesn’t actually make much from those hot dogs. Costco leaves the prices at $1.50 so people will show up just for the lunch, on the grounds that a person who comes for a $1.50 hot dog will likely look around and wind up buying something else. It’s probably pretty effective. I know I can’t go to Costco for one thing without leaving with five or six more things. If I went for a hot dog, I’d probably leave with 16 cans of tuna and a birthday cake.

Costco’s hot dogs are pretty great hot dogs, too. The company’s beef hot dogs are made with no corn syrup, phosphates, fillers, byproducts, or artificial colors or artificial flavors. Also, while Costco’s hot dogs are “100 percent all beef” in the U.S., that’s not necessarily true elsewhere. In Japan, the hot dogs are actually made of pork. According to our readers, that’s also true of the Costco hot dogs in Taiwan.

Costco’s $1.50 hot dog deal brings a lot of people through the doors, and it’s a big part of why some people say Costco is the perfect place to go on a first date. Don’t forget you can get extra onions and sauerkraut if you like. Ina Garten even says her favorite choice for her last meal would be a hot dog. Hers comes from Paris and costs nearly $10, but still. I wonder what Ina Garten thinks of Costco’s $1.50 hot dog and drink combo.

What do you think of Costco’s hot dogs?