The world is healing: Costco is bringing back free samples

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Like the first buds of spring after a harsh winter, life as we once knew it is starting to remerge here in the US. And one of the best – and tastiest – examples is about to appear in a Costco near you. The major box store chain is bringing back free samples! Starting in early June, Americans can once again bring their club cards and their appetites to the drafty aisles of Costco as plastic gloved do-gooders pass out tasty bites. Costco’s members can once again leave their local store with a giant flat-screen, a year’s supply of wiper fluid and full bellies.

According to USA Today, Costco’s chief financial officer and executive vice president Richard Galanti announced during a call to investors that free sampling would be returning next month.

While they have plans to bring back free sampling at all of their stores, the process will happen in phases, with 170 stores carrying free samples during the first week of June while the rest of the 550 estimated locations will be complete by the end of the month.

“Increased safety protocols are and will be in place, including all samples prepared behind plexiglass, prepared in smaller batches for better safety control and distribute it to members one at a time,” Galanti reportedly said during the call.

Costco first suspended its sampling program in March 2020, following suit with many other companies taking precautions due to COVID-19.

[From People]

I, for one, could not be happier. I love Costco samples. I so rarely go to Costco anymore but when I do, I plan my day around it and that includes samples and the food court. What I didn’t know, is that Costco is already known for super high standards of food safety. Add that with increased COVID precautions and I think we can feel very safe – with the food and food handlers, that is. The Costco guests are another story. Like most businesses, Costco is not requiring masks for their fully vaccinated members. Like other businesses, they will be taking their members’ word for it. We have been seeing throughout the pandemic that Costco customers have made a particular stand against safety precautions, not wearing masks when it was required, throwing tantrums and getting kicked out. In general, I’m not too worried about shopping at Costco because it’s so large and high ceilinged. But when folks are waiting for samples, it’s a few people deep and shoulder to shoulder. Those lines will only grow if there are smaller batches and single sample distribution. I wonder if they are going to have helpers to prep the samples, like a sous chef. A sous sampler, if you will.

Maybe the Costco crowd will work it out. Maybe we will all behave and realize if we don’t wait patiently and safely for our Hot Pocket bite, they will be taken from us and we will be left, once again, to pressing our face against the freezers, remembering back to a better time of hot plates and paper doilies. Let’s do this, folks. The Costco gods have smiled on us, let’s show them we are worthy.

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11 Responses to “The world is healing: Costco is bringing back free samples”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    We didn’t join Costco until last summer, so I have never been there in non-pandemic times and have never experienced the wonder that is Costco samples, so I’m REALLY excited about this lol. I’m hoping people can behave themselves.

  2. Mina_Esq says:

    Costco handled pandemic safety like a champ. I have no doubt that they will pull the samples if people start misbehaving.

  3. faithmobile says:

    I’m probably in the minority but free food grosses me out. I just automatically distrust it. But i’ve never been to Costco and not purchased something from the food court.

    • Darla says:

      I used to get pretzels when they still had those. But since they did away with those, I don’t get anything. I feel the same way about the samples as you. I have never taken one.

    • goofpuff says:

      In pre-pandemic times Costco was EXTREMELY good at food safety for the food samples (at least the ones I’ve been in). Workers were gloved up and wearing hairnets and aprons. They put out small batches at a time and kept everything at the right temperatures. They were careful about who could have samples (aka kids had to get their parents permission).

  4. Sofia in TX says:

    I need to make a Costco run before this happens. I haven’t missed having to navigate my cart around crowds of people waiting for a sample.

  5. Leah says:

    They had free samples out and about during the last few times I was at my local Costco. I’m not into free samples of food but I just assumed they put the policy back up. They haven’t brought back the benches around the food court yet and everything is paid by CC. Alas, baby steps.

  6. AnnaC says:

    This is almost as exciting as the free coffee bar at my local grocery store being back! I really felt bad for the people who had to work those stations, promoting product with no samples had to be tough and as I understand it their compensation is based on the number of units sold for whatever they were marketing. Not sure if that changed during the pandemic.

    The shoppers at the 2 Costcos I go to, one in CT and one in MA, outside of Boston (none in my home state of RI) fortunately all seemed to be respectful of the mask mandates, and even last week, after the mandate for vaxxed people was lifted, I’d say 80-85% of the shoppers were still wearing masks.

  7. CV says:

    Costco is an absolute model corporate and community citizen wherever they operate. They would not bring them back if they could not do it in a safe manner. I’ve owned this stock for well over a decade and management continues to impress me for their commitment to not just shareholders but to their employees and to customers. Their members will *love* this!

  8. april says:


  9. ummmmm says:

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but the Costco’s in MI have been handing out free samples and we’ve been getting our pizza samples at the food court since the pandemic. The workers have been super strict in their guidelines with gloves, face masks, hair nets and wrapping up food in foil before handing to customers.