Costco Is Bringing Back Food Samples And No, Thanks

by Leah Groth
Costco Is Bringing Back Food Samples And No Thanks
Tim Boyle/Getty

Samples are returning to Costco stores around the country, and we aren’t exactly sure why

Early in the coronavirus pandemic one of the first changes Costco made was eliminating their famous free food samples in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite the fact that food samples on a tray that many people are getting close to are probably not the best idea mid-pandemic, some people were seriously bummed when they disappeared. Lucky for them, this week Costco has announced that food samples have returned to their stores.

Costco is “trying to get back to normal, as areas around the country are trying to do the same,” Richard Galanti, the company’s chief financial officer, told CNN Business. The samples are already in a handful of stores, and in the coming weeks, they will continue to pop up in additional locations.

Anyone who has ever stepped into a Costco store is well aware that their free sample situation is the bomb. The big box store basically offers a buffet of everything from Chinese dumplings and pizza to exotic dips and smoothie drinks, all prepared by one of their employees from a tiny, tabletop gadget. As soon as a batch is ready, people flock to the sample cart, eagerly waiting to be fed. Seriously, who even needs a meal after a Costco shopping trip? But the pandemic meant that ritual had to be paused.

Some people are going to be delighted with this news, as the samples were sorely missed.

However, there are going to be some changes when it comes to samples. “Needless to say, [it’s] not going to be where you go and just pick up an open sample with your fingers,” Galanti said during an earnings call in May.

Basically, don’t expect to munch on slivers of gooey cheese-covered pizza prepared by a cheery Costco employee. According to Galanti, Costco samples aren’t going to be the hot, cooked, deliciousness they were prior to the virus sweeping the globe. Instead, the samples are all going to be prepackaged. Additionally, the company might place plexiglass barriers in front of them.

Other changes the company is making include loosening restrictions on the number of people members can bring with them during shopping trips.

Before you decide to indulge in pre-pandemic rituals — like noshing and nibbling on free samples in a store — try and keep in mind that COVID-19 is still around and thriving in many parts of the country. In fact, Florida, Texas, and Arizona are experiencing their highest daily averages thus far in the pandemic.

And, even if you are eating “prepackaged” food versus a prepared egg roll, the act of touching food with your fingers and putting it into your mouth is still required. Considering the CDC’s recommendations of coronavirus prevention methods haven’t changed — which include keeping your hands away from your face unless you have washed or sanitized them — eating anything while shopping probably isn’t the greatest idea.