The 1.50 USD hot dog and soda combo at the Costco food court represents one of the best fast food values in history.
This quarter-pound all-beef behemoth isn't just a great value, it's downright delicious.
Here are the reasons why the hot dogs at Costco are so, so good.
Up until 2008, the hot dogs being served at the Costco food court were standard-issue Hebrew National all-beef, kosher hot dogs.
Around that time though, the supply of those kosher hot dogs began to dwindle, and costs began to rise.
That's when Costco decided to step up its hot dog game even further, and start throwing some of their annual operating budget at moving their hot dog manufacturing operations in-house.
According to the company's explanation, the Kirkland brand hot dogs you'll get at a Costco food court today are "10 percent heavier and longer than the old," and they're a better quality.
That's a win!
In order to keep up with demand, Costco constructed a dedicated hot dog manufacturing facility in Los Angeles, and when that wasn't enough, later added a second facility in Chicago.
That oughta be enough to keep the dogs coming for a long, long time.
Inspiring feelings of shame and inadequacy in lesser hot dogs everywhere, the first thing you notice about Costco hot dogs is their size.
Weighing in at more than a quarter of a pound, or four ounces, this is a hot dog that eats more like a meal.
As a point of reference, a standard-issue hot dog from the arguably more famous Oscar Mayer clocks in at just 1.58 ounces.
According to My Fitness Pal, this hulking meat tube with bun will add 552 calories and 32 grams of fat to your daily intake, and that's before you heap on the complimentary ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, and sauerkraut.
That's dinner sorted!
Ask any of your woke vegan friends about their lifestyle choices, and they'll probably start lecturing you on the hidden evils of hot dogs.
Their argument isn't totally without merit: Lots of hot dogs are made with some sketchy ingredients, which probably wouldn't even legally qualify as food in some more evolved societies.
Bargain-basement hot dogs are unholy chemical mashups of spare chicken trimmings, discarded scrapheap organs including ground-up livers, kidneys, and hearts, and apparently at least 2 percent of the time, traces of human DNA.
That ringing you hear is every single one of your mental alarm bells sounding at the exact same time.
Not at Costco, though.
The big box giant's signature Kirkland hot dogs are made of 100 percent beef, with no questionable "variety meats" included, people-based or otherwise.
Questionable meat isn't the only problem plaguing competing value-brand hot dogs.
Many of them are loaded with additional chemical additives and stabilizers, which can start to sound a lot more like a chemistry experiment gone awry than an actual food product intended for humans.
Unlike the cut-rate hot dogs sold at many venues however, Costco controls the entire manufacturing process.
Ensuring that their hot dogs contain no by-products, corn syrup, phosphates, fillers, or artificial colors or flavors.
There's not a lot to be confident in, in this crazy, mixed-up world, but the ingredients in the hot dogs at the Costco food court aren't a bad place to start.
Ask any armchair expert about the wisest way to stretch a dime into a dollar when it comes to food budget and maximizing your caloric intake at the lowest possible price, and most will give you the same answer: You've gotta work your free topping game to its maximum possible potential.
While many Costcos turn the straightforward application of ketchup, yellow mustard, and sweet pickle relish into an all-you-can-squirt self-service situation, don't be fooled into thinking those are your only topping options.
Many Costcos also keep a semi-secret stash of diced raw onions alongside a briney vat of sauerkraut behind the counter, and all you have to do is ask the helpful counter clerk to hook you up.
Best of all, these add-ons are completely free for the asking.
As you might expect, Costco isn't making a ton of money on their $1.50 hot dog and soda combo.
In fact, the company loses money on every combo sold, to the tune of more than 100 million hot dog meals each year.
And according to the company, that's just fine.
Why this commitment to a product that costs the company money with every sale?
The answer is twofold.
First, losing a few cents on a hot dog combo that may lure shoppers into a store that sells everything from $1,000 big-screen TVs to cruises makes a ton of financial sense.
Just one sale of a big-ticket item instantly wipes out the losses on hundreds or even thousands of hot dogs.
But there's another reason to keep the discount hot dog train rolling: A busy food court creates a buzzing family-friendly atmosphere, and that cheap meal for the whole family helps shoppers justify the yearly cost of membership.
And for you, the loyal customer, you just know that hot dog tastes so, so much better since you know you're getting a crazy good deal on that full meal.
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