After visiting Costco for the third time ever, celebrity chef David Chang of Momofuku fame dished out hot take after hot take on a new episode of his podcast. His most controversial statement: “Costco chicken is the worst rotisserie chicken.”
Chang went on to explain that the fan-favorite item isn’t seasoned well, adding that the warehouse store’s bird is “inedible.”
"The reason why it's important to have it properly seasoned is, you might eat it the next day cold, and it's gotta taste good cold,” Chang says. “And there's something about all the nitrates and all the crap they pump into that chicken that makes the chicken breast even more disgusting the next day when it's cold. There’s something terrible that happens to rotisserie chicken.”
Instead, Chang recommends Sprouts’ $7 bird (specifically from the Alhambra, California, location), which he calls the best grocery store rotisserie chicken that he’s ever had.
This isn’t the first time that Costco’s rotisserie chickens have come under fire. Two shareholders sued Costco for allegedly breeding the chickens so large that they died of starvation, injuries, and illnesses. Similarly, the company’s Nebraska processing plant has come under scrutiny for poultry contracts that some farmers say are unfair, though Costco has pushed back against those claims.
Despite its detractors, the wholesaler’s rotisserie chicken remains one of its most popular products, in large part because of its seemingly inflation-proof $4.99 price tag.
The prices are so low for two main reasons: 1) the chicken is a loss leader meant to drive other sales and 2) Costco has a vertically integrated supply chain. In Nebraska, for instance, the wholesaler owns everything from the chicken feed mill to the hatchery and slaughter plant, enabling the retailer to outprice competitors.
Even Chang is willing to admit that the price is impressive, joking that he'd buy Costco's chicken if circumstances were different.
"If I was like a weightlifter on Atkins (diet), then I would just be buying that non-stop," he said.
Cheapism has reached out to Costco and will update this article if and when we hear back.