The Huge Hot Dog Scandal That Completely Rocked Costco

Costco may be one of the world's largest retailers, but for many customers the real reason to shop there isn't the sweet deals on bulk foods, it's the mega-popular food court — more specifically, the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo. In fact, the combo is a loss leader deal that has spurred countless purchases of otherwise unneeded 12-packs of paper towels and inexplicably tall wine glasses. But in the summer of 2018, Costco made a move that caused major backlash: They revamped the food court menu and did away with one of the most popular offerings — the all-beef Polish sausage — which had been a long-standing option in that famous $1.50 combo. So why would the warehouse store choose to mess with the success of a sales-driving food court item? 

One purported reason for the menu change was due in part to space constraints — their food court menu, after all, consists of large signs over the food court counters, and each time a new item is introduced, it often means another item has to be eliminated for a new sign to find its place. Not only was the Polish dog dropped, but many Costco food courts also dropped other popular items including chocolate frozen yogurt, the berry frozen yogurt sundae, chili, and the barbecue brisket sandwich. The items Costco chose to replace those tasty treats? Healthier options like an açaí fruit bowl with granola, an al pastor salad with plant-based protein, and an organic burger. Really, Costco? If we wanted that stuff, we'd be shopping at Whole Foods to begin with.

Needless to say, Costco food court fans — or former fans — were not pleased, and took to social media to vent their frustration. Soon #SavethePolishDog was trending on Twitter, with comments including, "I am utterly devastated," and, "Noooooo Costco why," along with plenty of crying emoji and angry reaction gifs. Many tweeters pointed out the obvious: "If I wanted a healthier vegan friendly option I wouldn't be at your food court..." One user asked, "How many people go to a fast food restaurant because they want to eat healthy? Do you not remember McDonald's Salads?"

And how did Costco respond to the will of the people? By pretty much ignoring it, except to issue a disclaimer that at least the all-beef hot dog combo remains, not having (yet) given way to a veggie dog-only deal. Wienerschnitzel, however, took to Twitter to remind Polish dog fans that they had been offering a Polish sausage for over 50 years and never planned to stop doing so.

Even Sam's Club stepped in to troll Costco while simultaneously wooing potential customers, adding a Polish dog to their own food court menu. A timely move, as several #SavethePolishDog tweeters hinted they'd be ditching their Costco memberships, while others mulled over the possibility of making a membership switch based on food court offerings alone. But how does the Sam's Club version compare to Costco's? One taste-tester tweeted, "I went to @SamsClub yesterday and got a Polish dog. It was delicious. You hear that, @Costco? IT WAS DELICIOUS!" Okay, then.

Though the Costco Polish sausage has been gone from many of its food courts for over a year, the campaign to bring back this fan favorite is far from over — and no, it isn't just old fogies set in their ways who are demanding the return of this not-so-healthy-but-nevertheless-delicious dog. A video posted to YouTube in June 2019 announced the "Polish Dogs 2020" campaign launched by 16-year-old Izagani Aquino, who, in his non-Polish dog related political career, is also a junior vice president at San Marin High School in Novato, California. His "movement for change" not only has its own Facebook and Instagram pages, but it even has a celebrity endorsement from the great Joey Chestnut, perhaps the world's leading expert on tubular sausage. Chestnut's professional opinion on the Costco scandal? "I think it would be good to get Polish dogs back... more than one encased meat on the menu would be a good thing."

Until this campaign succeeds in its objective, however, Costco Polish addicts do have one final recourse, although it may involve acquiring a passport. According to Costco Canada, their stores have no plans to remove or replace the Polish sausage on their menu. Looks like it's about time for a road trip, eh?