The Truth About Costco Sheet Cakes

When one thinks of Costco, visions of endless aisles stocked and stacked with everything from condiments to camping equipment come to mind — with free food samples awaiting around every corner. The big-box store's in-house Kirkland Signature brand has amassed a cult following over the years, but many shoppers will defend that the true crown jewel of Costco's colossal collection is the retailer's iconic sheet cake.

You've probably spotted one of these rectangular confections at a childhood birthday party or two, or the crowd-pleasing treat might have been the centerpiece of your own celebration. Maybe you've bounced over to the bakery on a Friday evening and scooped up a sheet cake to eat entirely yourself (because you can, no pre-order necessary!). Regardless of the circumstance, this beloved bakery item has found its way into the hearts (and stomachs) of Americans for years. Do yourself a favor and read these facts about the tempting dessert before you take another bite of cake.

Costco sheet cakes can be decorated with a vast array of different designs

Reflecting on the popular dessert's widespread versatility and appeal, Costco offers a cake design for every occasion, age and personality. According to this order form, the retailer's bakery team can craft exactly 27 unique icing illustrations to adorn your confection. Birthday motifs include a rainbow, rose bouquet, princess crown, and an "over-the-hill" version for when your party guest of honor is turning 40. On top of that, designs such as a cross, baby carriage (available in either pink or blue), and graduation cap are available to celebrate nearly every milestone in between. Basically, if it's an important life event, Costco's bakery has a cake design for it. 

Plus, the Costco cake artists can also create just about every sports ball under the sun, making them perfect for a delicious ending to a little league season or a Super Bowl party. If nothing out of this selection strikes your fancy, though, the big-box store's bakery also takes custom orders a few days in advance to give their cake artists time to craft a special design or bespoke message (via Delish).

Costco's sheet cakes are only offered in two flavors in the U.S.

Easily customizable and available in a pinch, the options are endless when it comes to Costco's signature half-sheet cakes — except in terms of taste. The confections are only available in two different flavors: white cake layered with vanilla cheesecake mousse (a whole two pounds of it!) and topped with decadent vanilla buttercream frosting, or chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse and, you guessed it, iced with chocolate buttercream. Not exactly a lot of variety, but they get the job done. 

According to Delish, the warehouse store's bakery offered more exotic flavors years ago — such as a carrot cake cradling apricot mousse that's dolloped with cream cheese frosting before being dusted with slivered almonds. Equally impressive was the flavor bonus offered by Costco's Australian stores. Shoppers had the option of adding a fruity twist and could choose a raspberry filling to compliment either chocolate or vanilla sponge cake. Given the dessert's enduring popularity, though, American customers clearly appreciate each cake's quality and freshness, and don't mind a more tailored approach to these treats.

Costco's sheet cakes are just as sweet on your wallet as your tongue

Between its size, taste and price, the retailer's most-loved dessert might just be the ultimate budget bite. Costco's trademark treat is a steal at $18.99, especially considering their ability to be customized to any style or occasion. The cost for a cake from a high-end independent patisserie can easily eek up into the triple digits, and even a confection from your run-of-the-mill local bakery still averages at least five dollars more expensive than the reliable Costco standby (via Know More Stuff). 

According to one Facebook commenter, the taste of the cake rivals a fancy bakery as well: "I've been marketing that cake to everyone for several years. Also served it at my daughter's wedding in fear the big wedding cake wasn't enough. I got more compliments on the Costco cake than the $400 cake!"

Low cost aside, the time you save not slaving away over a bowl of batter before your birthday bash is priceless.

Costco's half-sheet cakes are being discontinued in all U.S. stores

To the dismay of all cake enthusiasts, Costco released a Facebook advertisement in late May encouraging members to purchase cakes to celebrate graduations —only the cakes pictured in the ad were the bakery's 10-inch round cake, not the fan-favorite half-sheet cake. At the bottom of the post, it breaks the upsetting news: "Please note: Half-sheet cakes are currently not available to order or customize." The warehouse retailer confirmed in a recent statement to Business Insider that they have no intention of restocking the cakes either.

According to The New York Times, the loss of the sheet cakes could be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, where gatherings for larger groups have gone by the wayside along with hugs and handshakes. "To help limit personal contact and create more space for social distancing, Costco has reduced service in some departments," the retailer explained. "At this time, we are not making sheet cakes for special order." Yes, it's a bummer, but a smaller sheet cake will still taste just as delicious as the larger ones.

There is currently an online petition begging Costco to restock the half-sheet cakes

Although the store originally claimed that the 10-inch round cakes "seem to be resonating" with members (via Business Insider), the internet proves otherwise. A Change.org petition was formed not too long after Costco announced that they would be discontinuing the beloved dessert. The page's description reads: "Bring back the amazing Costco half-sheet cakes! Birthdays and special occasions will never be the same. Pure perfection!"

The petition has already racked up over 1,000 signatures since it began two months ago, with many signers expressing their adoration in the "reasons for signing" section below. This petition participant's response sums up the Costco community's feeling about the cake perfectly: "There is not one single cake on earth better than Costco's half-sheet cake. I fear my daughter's future may hold birthday parties with some lesser cake when all you had to do was not pull your single most valuable creation from its beautiful stainless steel shelf. #BringBackTheSheet." Spoken like a true die-hard Costco cake fan. 

Costco's half-sheet cakes can satisfy up to 48 sweet tooths

Weighing in at a whopping nine and a half pounds — essentially the size of a newborn baby — there's no question that Costco's signature confection is perfection when it comes to feeding a crowd of hungry partygoers. Each half-sheet cake is intended to serve as many as 48 dessert die-hards for under 20 dollars, so basically you're spending no more than 40 cents per person no matter how you slice it. Compared to one of the 10-inch round cakes, which only feeds up to a dozen for more than half the price, there is no comparison — the half-sheet's 12 x 16 inches of fluffy frosted goodness comes out on top (or on plate) every time.

Although you might not think a cake made to serve nearly half a hundred people is needed during a global pandemic, one cake lover who signed the Change.org petition argued that a dessert his size does have a very important purpose: "Because buying a cake doesn't mean you're having a huge party. A lot of businesses buy these cakes for essential workers!!"

Costco sheet cakes can make for pretty great wedding cakes

A 2019 article from The Knot surveyed 27,000 couples about their nuptial dessert of choice and reported that the average price of a wedding cake is around $500 (yikes!). One creative couple decided to eschew a more expensive option in favor of building their own tiered treat out of Costco's sheet cakes and fresh flowers from Trader Joe's. The homemade wedding cake masterpiece racked up a total of $50 — a truly sweet deal — and was created from two humble sheet cakes which were sliced into smaller squares and stacked on top of each other to achieve a traditional wedding cake shape. Luckily, the couple had a pastry chef in the family, who assisted in topping the confectionary creation with decadent layers of homemade buttercream and arranging the pale pink roses in a cascade down the cake.

The groom's sister documented the final product on Instagram, praising her brother's creativity and craftsmanship and revealing that she was the mastermind behind the beautiful, budget-friendly rustic cake stand.

One Costco sheet cake's design stirred up a scandal

Back in 2015, a Costco controversy broke out due to a mother complaining that her son's dinosaur-themed birthday cake contained Satanic symbolism. According to an article by the Inquisitr (via Snopes), the woman purchased the cake in question at the Superstition Springs Costco location in Mesa, AZ, likely drawn to the friendly-looking blue and green dinosaur prancing through grass drawn in icing across the surface. As she was singing "Happy Birthday" to her son, however, she noticed that the dino's three visible legs seemed to be in the shape of "666," a numerical sequence commonly associated with the devil.

"I was extremely shocked and upset to see a demonic symbol written clear as day on my 6-year-old son's birthday cake," says the woman. "What was supposed to be a whimsical dinosaur became something very distasteful. I was extremely surprised at Costco for allowing such an inappropriate joke be sold to an unsuspecting victim." Although the claims have been debunked since and thought to be orchestrated by the woman and her boyfriend (a reporter), there were exactly 666 Costco stores spread across the world at the time of the scandal. Oooh, spooky!

There's speculation that Costco's half-sheet cakes are already returning to stores

When Costco took their sheet cakes off of shelves in spring 2020, fans and members of the wholesale club flocked to the official Costco Facebook page to express their disdain for the retailer's decision — leaving comments such as "I love the sheet cakes! I buy very few bakery items, but I get these cakes for big occasions and they taste great. They should NOT be discontinued," as well as "OMG please do NOT get rid of the personalized half sheet cakes! So good and so reasonably priced" (via Eat This, Not That!).

Costco's sheet cake devotees turned to social media once more to find out the fate of their beloved treats, rallying behind an Instagram post from the Costco Connoisseur account that showed a photo of a custom cake ordering station with the caption: "Costco Sheet Cakes are BACK!!! By special order only." There have also been reports of other cake ordering areas popping up in Santa Clara and San Jose, California by local TV station NBC Bay Area. Despite these hopeful anomalies, however, the warehouse store confirms in a statement to USA Today that the sought after sweet treat has not returned to shelves.

The popularity of sheet cakes might have distracted from another budget-friendly Costco confection

What the warehouse store's sheet cake lacks in elegance it makes up for in ease and simplicity, but for some special occasions, you might want a confection with a dash of class. Fear not, you still won't have to stray from the Costco bakery's shelves to find a crowd-pleasing cake with some international flair. Enter: the tiramisu bar cake. Made with layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and creamy mascarpone, this decadent dessert is finished with a dusting of cocoa powder as well as a generous pile of chocolate shavings—sure to impress even your pickiest party guests. Tiramisu can also be pretty expensive, but again, Costco bucks the trend and delivers this treat on the cheap. 

The traditional Italian cake is recreated on a large Costco-sized scale (2.38 pounds to be exact) by extending lengthwise to form an elongated rectangle perfect for slicing up to feed a crowd, ringing in at just under $16. Between their sheet cake and tiramisu, Costco's bakery might have you saying ciao to pricy pastries forever.