There is no more welcome than the Costco food court after an hour or two of shopping for bulk toilet paper and cheap printer cartridges. And while there is a menu full of tempting options, it is the ridiculously cheap $ 1.50 hot dog and soft drink deal that gets all the attention. Of course, they make a mean dog, which probably explains why 135 million hot dog combos were sold in 2017, and the price of the meal, unchanged since the deal started in 1985, really can’t be beat. But let’s forget the hot dogs, because Costco’s pizza also deserves some attention.
Thanks to their 750 locations and high sales – the food court raises $ 1 billion annually – Costco is often mentioned as one of the largest pizza chains in the country. According to Business Insider, the company was even in 14th place in the largest chain in 2015 – not too poor for a department store. But what makes Costco’s pizza so irresistible? We all know that there is not one reason why it is so good. Let’s split it up.
If you have ever ordered a piece of Costco pizza, you know it is huge. We are talking about a slice that hangs over the edge of a paper plate. And that massive portion will only cost you $ 1.99 (or an overwhelming $ 9.95 for an 18-inch pie), whether you opt for cheese, pepperoni or combo. But while such deals make every pizza taste better, it’s not just the low price that makes it so delicious.
An important factor in what makes Costco’s pizza great is that they don’t skimp on the toppings, and you know that every slice you get is fully loaded. Kaiwen Zhao, a supervisor at Costco, explained to Quora: “We never shred the ingredients, everything is measured according to a standard, every Costco pizza you get should have the same amount of sauce, cheese and toppings.”
How do they manage to make every cake so perfect? Robots (with a little help from human helpers). The dough, which according to Zhao is allowed to rise 24 to 27 hours and is the key to the success of the pizza, is placed on a machine that effortlessly presses the blob into a nice, even circle, which guarantees that it is not overloaded. After that, Costco food court workers only have to stretch the dough the smallest bit to make it fit in the pan before it is thrown with a dough docker. This spiky thing helps ensure that the finished crust is not loaded with huge air bubbles. Now comes the fun part – the sauce robot. The pizza pan takes a spin under a sponge that perfectly sauté each cake, dosing exactly the right amount each time (and is reminiscent of the kindergarten art of kindergarten). Then it is back to the man for the final touch, where the cheese is weighed exactly on a scale and the prescribed amount of pepperoni is placed exactly that way.
Because these pizzas are cooked in just six minutes, thanks to super-efficient conveyor ovens that cook from all sides, you can always expect a fresh piece waiting for you at the food window. Zhao even confirms that “any pizza slice that is not sold within the hour is thrown away and replaced to preserve freshness.”
If there is a knock on Costco’s pizza, it is that the slices have no sharpness. But really, how can you expect a pizza loaded with 24 grams of cheese to remain super crispy? Yes, a cheese pizza really contains one and a half pounds “old, buttery cheeses (a mixture of 80 to 20% low-fat, skimmed milk, mozzarella and provolon) and 10-month-old grated Parmesan cheese,” according to The Costco Connection. A pepperoni pie has 60 thin slices of spiced meat and a combination weighs almost four and a half pounds thanks to all sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, red onion, mushrooms and black olives. A slight lack of crunchiness in exchange for extravaganza toppings seems like a fair exchange, doesn’t it?
Do you wonder how all those cheese and meat stack when it comes to calorie counting? Depending on the segment you choose, look at 710 to 760 calories, with the total fat floating about 30 grams at a time, about half your daily intake and the saturated fat content at around 65 to 70 percent of your recommended daily value. Anyway, you also get up to 40 grams of protein for chowing down on a great piece of pizza, which is a big win. What it comes down to is that Costco pizza, in all its fat, cheesy glory, is not meant to be a diet food – it’s just meant to taste good. And it does.