Apparently, Costco's Free Samples Are All-You-Can-Eat

Costco has managed to create a cult-like following of online members who regularly praise the grocery chain for its rotating stock of pre-packaged meals, its excellent deals on everyday goods and kitchen gadgets, and its famed food court staples, such as the $1.99 pizza slice and the $1.50 hot dog.

The untold truth about Costco, however, is that one of the chain's greatest deals has been right in front of customers' faces all along, namely, its free samples. Costco regularly offers complimentary samples of their packed-in-store goods, including exclusive and limited-time treats ranging from appetizers to desserts and everything in between.

The general etiquette surrounding free samples suggests that you eat just one or maybe two as a means to test whether or not you would enjoy the full product, but Costco has no official rules regarding the number of samples it can give to each member. This means that, upon request, every Costco free sample is essentially a tiny all-you-can-eat buffet.

How to best utilize the free sample hack

While there's no specific store-wide policy regarding the use of the free-sample system, shoppers may be subject to a few odd looks if they plan on standing by the designated counter for extended periods, and Costco's free-sample employees will likely hope they stop doing so. Regardless, the chain's unspoken policy for its samples is fairly lenient: It simply asks that members engage using their own discretion and employ the honor system, hopefully preventing well-meaning customers from abusing the perk.

That said, there's no moral or ethical imperative against stopping at the stand multiple times during an hours-long Costco haul to ensure that you're alert, energized, and focused while filling your cart with any number of high-quality, low-priced goods. If you're a real fan of the particular sample on display next time you're shopping, feel free to indulge and have a few of them before committing to purchasing the full product.