The Reason Costco Shoppers Are Laughing At This Onion Dispenser

Nostalgia struck the Costco subreddit yesterday. One community member shared a picture they took of an onion dispenser, supposedly from Costco, being sold at a thrift store as a commercial stainless steel onion grater for $75 (via Reddit). They captioned the photo, "It's been so long since there were onions, I guess they're vintage now." "A relic of the old days," one user commented, which another corrected to say, "A relish* of the old days."

In case you're lost, Costco used to keep these onion graters in its food court so customers could dispense diced onion onto hot dogs and other treats, explained a pinned comment on the thread. "While it may seem like a very trivial little invention, having your onions neatly come out of a little machine lets us bypass so many troubles," the blog Hot Banana Peppers wrote about the devices in 2010. While tongs could be messy, the machine was neat and allowed diners to more evenly garnish their meals.

However, these dispensers have since disappeared from the Costco food court. Many Redditors placed the blame on COVID-19, figuring that the store has been trying to prevent physical contact through shared machinery. Some locations have introduced new touchless condiment dispensers, another Reddit thread shows, which do not include onions. However, based on an older thread asking what happened to the onion dispensers, it appears that the pandemic may not be entirely at fault.

Costco may have lost money from its onion dispensers

While the pandemic may have contributed to the final moments of the Costco onion dispenser, the grocery chain had another good reason to get rid of it. Namely, because it lost them a good amount of money. In a Reddit thread from four years ago, one person explained that the dispensers were replaced with small, pre-portioned cups of onions because people would serve themselves excessive amounts. "I've seen customers order 2 hot dogs and ask for 8 sauerkrauts and then go fill their soda cups with onions to take home," they said.

Another Costco employee commented on the thread saying that customers frequently broke the crank on the machines, making it too difficult for workers to maintain. Alas, if, like one Redditor, you feel that a Costco hot dog "isn't right without onions," you'll have to ask a food court employee for a cup of the diced veggie. Otherwise, you may want to go on the hunt for a vintage Costco onion dispenser at your local thrift store.