Secrets of the Sam's Club food court you'll wish you knew sooner

Originally, Sam's Club was created as a store to help small business owners stock up on necessary goods. That was all the way back in 1983 in Midwest City, Oklahoma. But since then, things have changed a lot. For one, Sam's Club has expanded exponentially: There are now nearly 600 stores spread across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The company also realized it could expand its market and start selling to individuals and families who were interested in stocking up on bulk goods at a lower-than-average price. The stores sell memberships that provide customers access to these great prices. Because you have to pay to shop there, customers expect more, from the shopping experience to the in-store food.

While it may often be eclipsed by the more-popular Costco food court, the Sam's Club Cafe isn't messing around when it comes to satisfying your hunger while you shop. It's the home of amazing deals on junk food staples that we all like to indulge in from time to time. From pizza to hot dogs to the beloved Chicken Bites, there are quite a few items at the Sam's Club Cafe that you'll likely want to check out. Before you visit, let's take a look at some of the most surprising Sam's Club food court secrets you'll wish you knew sooner.

You don't need a membership to eat at the Sam's Club food court

While you will need a Sam's Club membership to shop at the store (in most cases), you don't need a membership card to sit down and enjoy the cafe. Does it have the best ambiance for a nice lunch? No. But if you need to grab some food fast and don't want to spend much money, it's definitely worth trying out.

That's good to know because Sam's Club memberships aren't that cheap — especially if you don't plan on shopping there enough to make them worth it. The Sam's Club membership card costs $45, which gives loyal customers shopping access to the store and several other perks, like exclusive prices on fuel and eligibility for a Sam's Club Mastercard. But die-hard Sam's Club fans will probably opt for the Plus Membership, which offers free shipping, free select prescriptions, and even discounts on glasses. Can't be bothered with any of that? Grab your churro and be on your way.

The Sam's Club food court has fewer options than Costco

There are some comparisons you just can't help but make. McDonald's and Wendy's. Papa John's and Dominos. KFC and Chick-fil-A. Another pairing that makes that list is Sam's Club and Costco. When you look at both of these wholesale stores, it's possible to go beyond the grocery section to take a closer look at both of their food courts. They both have some delicious items, and many of them are shockingly similar. For example, just look at what happened when Costco discontinued their Polish hot dogs — Sam's Club started selling their own version. 

While you'll mostly find similar quality when it comes to the menu items at both of these food courts, we have to admit that Sam's Club falls short when it comes to variety. If you're a regular Costco shopper, don't expect to find the same options waiting for you at the Sam's Club food court. Costco just offers its hungry shoppers more options than Sam's Club does. Don't let that stop you from eating there, though. What the Sam's Club Cafe does, it does well.

The Sam's Club food court offers a pizza pretzel on its secret menu

You may not expect somewhere like the Sam's Club food court to have a secret menu, but you'd be wrong. Sam's Club Cafe does have a secret menu, and it's actually pretty impressive. Probably the most celebrated item on the menu is the pizza pretzel, and it's just what it sounds like. You take the soft pretzel, which is already on the regular menu, and ask for it covered with cheese. Then, it's topped with pepperoni (if you're into that kind of thing) and popped into the oven. The result is the pizza pretzel in all of its glory. Don't forget to ask for marinara dipping sauce on the side, either — that may just be the best part.

This is the perfect snack to treat yourself to after a long day of grocery shopping. It's more substantial than just a pretzel on its own, but you could still justify getting lunch even after you eat one of them.

The famed Chicken Bites from the Sam's Club food court are also in the freezer section

We all love a good Chick-fil-A chicken nugget from time to time. They're distinct from other chicken nuggets in that it actually feels like you're biting into a piece of chicken and not just a chicken-flavored, machine-rendered blob. But if you're already on a Sam's Club run, you don't have to make a second stop to fulfill your nugget craving. That's because you can grab the Chicken Bites straight from the cafe. This might be a hot take, but some even claim that they're better than Chick-fil-A's nuggets. We won't make such a bold claim, but we do encourage you to try them for yourself to see what all the hype is about.

If you really fall in love with these things, you're in luck — and you won't have to take regular trips to the cafe. That's because Sam's Club actually sells these bad boys in the freezer section, too. They come in a three-pound bag, so you can keep a stash in your freezer for whenever you're craving fast food but don't want to leave the house.

The Icee floats from the Sam's Club food court are perfect for summer snacking

The secret menu at the Sam's Club food court may not be well-known, but it does feature some of the food court's most celebrated hits. The Icee float is one of those gotta-have-it items that we love grabbing on just about every Sam's Club run. It's a simple dessert at its finest: Choose the flavor you want, and get it topped with the creamiest of vanilla soft serves. You can choose from frozen cherry, frozen Pepsi, and frozen blue raspberry. Our opinion? You should try them all. 

It goes without saying that this ultra-sweet treat should be enjoyed on the hottest and sunniest of summer days for the ultimate Sam's Club food court experience. Grab one to slurp on while you walk around the store, or pick one up on the way out. Just remember that these treats are liable to melt pretty quickly in the sun, so don't take too long to enjoy.

The fresh pizzas from the Sam's Club food court are way better than the Take 'N Bake option

Sometimes, you just need to get dinner on the table fast. Whether you're just making food for yourself or you have to feed the whole family, pizza may just be the easiest way to do that. It's simple and fuss-free, and everyone in your house is going to love it. You have a few options when you opt for a pizza for the night. First, you could go for delivery, which is convenient but also more expensive than other options. Second, you could just take a trip to Sam's Club and grab a take 'n bake pizza to bring home with you. These things are pretty good, and they're sure to fill you up. But as long as you're already in Sam's Club, you should know that there are better options.

Head to the food court and pick up a fresh pizza instead. You may think that they would taste almost identical to the take 'n bake pizzas, but that's just not the case. The fresh pizzas here are so much better. It doesn't take any extra work to pick up one of those, so think about grabbing one the next time you shop at Sam's Club, and you'll thank yourself later.

The churros from the Sam's Club food court are huge

If you've lived a good life, you've had many a churro before. How could you not love churros? They're fried, they're covered in sugar, and they're (ideally) dipped in chocolate. But you don't have to take a flight to Madrid to get one of the best churros you've ever had in your life. Just head to the Sam's Club food court. You'll find massive churros that taste just as good as they look. These addictive desserts are 16 inches long at Sam's Club, meaning that just one of them can put you into a sugar coma (in the best possible way, of course).

Buy one from the food court if you need a pick-me-up in the middle of the day. Buy a whole "bouquet" of them if you need to apologize for doing something really wrong. Or, better yet, buy a bulk wholesale case of them after your next breakup. You'll get 65 whole churros, which should be enough to get you through your rough patch and onto your next date. After some time at the gym, of course.

The fruit and yogurt parfaits from the Sam's Club food court are tasty ... but too expensive

We love the Sam's Club food court, but that doesn't mean we think it's somewhere you should eat every day. Let's be honest: From the hot dogs to the pizza to the churros, this food court isn't exactly known for serving up the healthiest of foods. But all is not lost if you're eating at the Sam's Club cafe and want to find something that's on the healthier side. Need a semi-nutritious snack? You can always opt for the fruit and yogurt parfait. It's actually really tasty, and it can be eaten as a breakfast or as a dessert.

There's one catch, though. They're kind of expensive. It'll set you back $2.99 for just one of them. And considering everything you can get on the menu that's cheaper than that (practically everything!), it may not be your first choice if you're pinching your pennies. Got money to burn? Go for it. If not, consider this your free pass to get a super-inexpensive churro instead of the parfait. It's called financial health.

Sams Club food court's pepperoni pizza is better than the cheese

You're standing at the counter of the Sam's Club food court, and you're trying to decide what to get. There are so many options, but one in particular stands out: the pizza. Who can blame you? Just about every pizza is a good pizza, but Sam's Club delivers a surprisingly tasty pizza considering it's coming from a wholesale bargain store. And when you consider you can get a slice and a drink for under $2.50, it's even more appealing.

But even after you decide on the pizza, you still have to make a critical choice. Cheese or pepperoni? If you ask us, the pepperoni is the way to go every single time (unless you're a vegetarian, of course). The pepperoni adds some texture and crunch to the pizza, which is a vast improvement on the plain cheese pizza. Keep this hack in mind, though: Remember to get some extra napkins. Just about any pizza you order from the Sam's Club cafe will be pretty greasy, and may want to blot some of that extra fat off.

You can order a whole pizza from the Sam's Club food court without the wait

After you've spent a long day at work, shopping for groceries can feel like an almost insurmountable task. After you do that, the last thing you'll want to go is drive home and throw together a homemade meal. Pizza was made for nights like this, and Sam's Club is a great place to get it. It will generally take about ten to 15 minutes from the time you order until the pizza's done, but you may not want to sit there waiting for it. Skip the wait, and just place your order ahead of time.

When you first arrive at the store, just walk up and place your order. Do your shopping, check out, and go back to the food court once you're all done. Your pizza will be done and waiting for you. Take it home and enjoy without any of the hassle of cooking for yourself or stopping someplace else for takeout. It might just become a part of your new grocery shopping routine.