Why Costco Stopped Selling Take-And-Bake Pizza

In the old days, you had two basic choices when it came to getting a pizza. Either you bought a frozen pie — that may or may not have been made by World War I flying ace the Red Baron – or you called up your nearby pizzeria to get something more freshly tossed. Then the take-and-bake revolution arrived and changed the face of pizza forever.

Papa Murphy's built an empire with take-and-bake pizzas. According to the company's website, it's now the fifth largest pizza franchise in the world with more than 1,200 locations. Naturally, seeing the success of this business model prompted several other companies to begin offering their own take-and-bake products. Walmart added selections under its Marketside brand, and Costco did the same under its Kirkland banner. Unfortunately, it looks like Costco's options may have gone the way of the Dodo bird, leaving people searching for answers as to why.

Since Costco has yet to explain its decision to discontinue its pizza, an investigation has become necessary. Here are the most likely reasons that the wholesale retailer has abandoned its take-and-bake pizza, leaving shoppers with one less choice.

It was horrible

Social media is not always the kindest place. People use their anonymity as a shield for brutal honesty. One of the things they have not been holding back on is how bad they believed Costco's take-and-bake pizza was.

"Take and baked were not good anyway. Bought one and it was the only one I ever got," said one dissatisfied commenter on a thread on the Costco subreddit. In another thread, someone compared Costco's food court pizza with the take-and-bake alternative. They said, "One is good for kids birthdays, feeding folks who helped you move, and for bribing husbands to go to Costco with you. The other you have to bake at home, then throw in the trash because it's disgusting." This was met with replies of "Perfectly stated" and "More or less exactly what I was going to say."

There are a couple things one could take away from this. The first is that people downright hated Costco's take-and-bake pizzas, and that's why the company stripped them from the shelves. The second is that Costco might merely be trying to get people to join the cult of the food court by pushing them to get their pizza only from there. If complaints and lackluster sales were the issue, then that leads to the next possible reason Costco is leaving the take-and-bake pizza party.

It wasn't selling

Costco would never remove one of its best-selling items no matter how horrible it is. What the company would do, however, is remove something that was not meeting sales goals. Costco has a very aggressive sales strategy, and it does not waste real estate in its stores on products that do not fly off the shelves. Thus, even if something is beloved by some, it still might not move well enough to justify stocking it.

"We seek to limit specific items in each product line to fast-selling models, sizes, and colors," says Costco's 10-K report, via The Motley Fool, meaning that the company only wants to stock merchandise that moves swiftly. If something just sits on the pallets, Costco will cut that item in favor of something else. The Motley Fool also reports that Costco stocks a fraction of the products sold by other retailers. According to The Fool's numbers, Costco has approximately 4,000 different items on its shelves, while a standard Target has closer to 80,000, and the average Walmart carries 150,000. That means there is no wasted space inside Costco, only room for the absolute best-sellers.

Sales and profit might not be what is behind this pizza extinction though, as there just may be more to the story.

Temporary outage while Costco reconfigures

When the combo pizza was discontinued from the food court, one Twitter user went after the company posting, "Who tf at Costco was like yeah let's get rid of the combo pizza." Thousands retweeted, but many also offered potential explanations, with one commenter citing (via BestLife) "COVID supply chain issues" as a potential source of blame for the combo pizza's disappearance. 

This is feasible, given that the White House had said that "shortages and supply-chain disruptions are significant and widespread" in June 2021. The White House also stated that the retail sector has been heavily impacted by these shortages and supply-chain issues. That sector includes Costco, even though it is technically a wholesaler. It is possible that supply-chain problems have removed take-and-bake pizzas from the equation, with Costco waiting until shortages subside to once again restock the home-baked selection.

Prices may also be a factor. AOL reports there are global food shortages, with Al Jazeera attributing that in part to the war between Russia and Ukraine — two major exporters of wheat. Wheat is often used in pizza dough, so a shortage could have caused prices to rise, forcing Costco to put products on hold until prices drop once again.

At the moment, there's nothing but theory to be had. What is known is that, according to a Reddit thread from 2020, Costco has discontinued take-and-bake pizza in the past, and it eventually made a comeback.