Guest Post: The Mystery of the Disappearing Bran Muffins

June 29th, 2010 · 46 Comments

[This guest mystery was written by Bill, who lives in Tucson.  He's had a membership to Price Club/Costco for around 30 years; that's a long time and a lot of loyalty.  He is new to my blog and started reading it as a result of looking for information on Costco's bran muffins.]

THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING BRAN MUFFINS.
Hi:  I certainly qualify as a member of the Addicted to Costco club.  I have been a faithful member since well before there was a Costco.
I know I became a member at least when Sol Price opened his first Orange County California store.  Although I might have joined even before because I remember shopping at a San Diego store with a daughter who lived there in S. D. even before the O. C. store opened.
My membership has been continuous since that time which must be close to 30 years now.
Their quality of products and their prices are something I’ve always been able to count on UP UNTIL NOW!
But now there comes the mystery as to why Costco has stopped baking their excellent bran muffins and why they won’t reveal the reason to their loyal customers.
The mystery of “Why Costco discontinued baking bran muffins” has become even a greater mystery as no straight answers are being given by either store employees or the Costco home office.
Within the last few months without explanation both of the Costco Stores in Tucson Arizona stopped baking bran muffins.  I checked just today on a Phoenix area store and found they too have quit baking bran muffins.
And no store employees can (or will) tell me why they have quit baking them.
The only answers I have received both from store employees and upon calling the Costco home office are:
1.  Costco leaves the decision on what to bake in their stores to the store manager.
2.  Costco being in the business to make money wouldn’t discontinue baking them if they were selling well.
I obviously can’t argue with number 1 above but I have never seen any bran muffins going unsold in the many months that I had been buying them.  In  fact it seemed like if you didn’t get down there on the day they were baked, you would never find any left over the next day.  They always seemed to be at a premium and only seemed to be baked one day a week.   And many times when I called to see if they were baking them I would get a message that “they ran out of muffin mix” or “the muffin mix didn’t come in yet.”
Adding to this great mystery is the fact that I just found out that the Sam’s store in Tucson has also discontinued baking bran muffins.
So how about a contest to present the winner with some sort of prize if they can discover the real reason why so many Costco Stores and Tucson Sam’s Club seem to have discontinued baking bran muffins at the same time.  (I can offer the prize of informing people where I have found the next best bran muffins to Costco’s.)
Is Bran scarce? Has Bran become too high priced? Has it been contaminated and is not safe?   I think Costco Members are entitled to know why a favorite product has been discontinued and why the reason for it’s discontinuance seems to be being kept secret.

THE MYSTERY OF THE DISAPPEARING BRAN MUFFINS

Hi:  I certainly qualify as a member of the Addicted to Costco club.  I have been a faithful member since well before there was a Costco.  I know I became a member at least when Sol Price opened his first Orange County California store.  Although I might have joined even before because I remember shopping at a San Diego store with a daughter who lived there in S. D. even before the O. C. store opened.  My membership has been continuous since that time, which must be close to 30 years now.

Their quality of products and their prices are something I’ve always been able to count on UP UNTIL NOW!

But now there comes the mystery as to why Costco has stopped baking their excellent bran muffins and why they won’t reveal the reason to their loyal customers.    The mystery of “Why Costco discontinued baking bran muffins” has become even a greater mystery as no straight answers are being given by either store employees or the Costco home office.

Within the last few months, without explanation, both of the Costco stores in Tucson, Arizona stopped baking bran muffins.  I checked just today on a Phoenix area store and found they too have quit baking bran muffins.

And no store employees can (or will) tell me why they have quit baking them.

The only answers I have received, both from store employees and upon calling the Costco home office, are:

  1. Costco leaves the decision on what to bake in their stores to the store manager.
  2. Costco, being in the business to make money, wouldn’t discontinue baking them if they were selling well.

I obviously can’t argue with number 1 above but I have never seen any bran muffins going unsold in the many months that I had been buying them.  In  fact, it seemed like if you didn’t get down there on the day they were baked, you would never find any left over the next day.  They always seemed to be at a premium and only seemed to be baked one day a week.  Because of the infrequency of having them available, I (and other bran muffin lovers) found ourselves having to call to find out which day of the week that they were going to bake them on so we could make a trip down there to get them before they ran out.  I suspect that part of the problem might be just that it became bothersome for them to answer the phone calls as to what day they would be baking them.  There seemed to be a problem of them obtaining on a regular schedule the needed bran for baking.  And many times when I called to see if they were baking them I would get a message that “they ran out of muffin mix” or “the muffin mix didn’t come in yet.”

Adding to this great mystery is the fact that I just found out that the Sam’s store in Tucson has also discontinued baking bran muffins.

So how about a contest to present the winner with some sort of prize if they can discover the real reason why so many Costco Stores and the Tucson Sam’s Club seem to have discontinued baking bran muffins at the same time.  (I can offer the prize of informing people where I have found the next best bran muffins to Costco’s.)

Is Bran scarce? Has Bran become too high priced? Has it been contaminated and is not safe?   I think Costco Members are entitled to know why a favorite product has been discontinued and why the reason for it’s discontinuance seems to be being kept secret.

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46 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Gene Allen // 2014.07.20 at 11:32 am

    Blue berries only on top in their muffins,hmmm. Columbus,oh.

    • 2 Bill Carroll, SR. // 2014.07.21 at 3:46 am

      To those newcomers to this website who hope that Costco will restore your good bran muffins to their bakery shop. Don’t hold your breath.

      It’s been over 4 years now since I started this commentary on Bran Muffins and that was many months after trying to convince my Tucson East Side Costco to start banking them again.

      By this time I had found out that not only the West Side store but the other Membership Club by the Walmart people had also stopped baking their bran Muffins.

      My guess still is that either the high prices of commodities like Bran or something about difficulty baking good bran muffins caused them to quit. Although I wouldn’t doubt that the drug industry could have been influential in bringing an end to the Costco Bran Muffins. There is obviously strong relations between Costco and drug industry because of their prescription filling services and the many over the counter drugs and laxatives they sell.

      There is no question that I still buy Bran Muffins (at Mimi’s Restaurants) for delicious tasting bran muffins because they do help this 87 year old stay healthy along with the VitgaMix I’ve been using now for over 20 years. Durability of the unit is great.

      Bill Carroll Sr.

  2. 3 Susan // 2013.03.24 at 2:00 pm

    Yep, I was shocked myself to see that Costco replaced their excellent Raisin Bran cereal with Kellogg’s Raisin Bran…nothing special about that. I truly, truly wish there was SOMEONE at Costco who could explain the logic behind these dumb decisions. Is it ALL about profits? I guess so…*sigh*…there can’t honestly be that much difference in what they can pocket off Kellogg’s brand and their own superior product, but, hey, what do I know. I’m only the consumer…although I haven’t been inside Costco for over a month now. The only reason I keep the membership is for the gas, and that may change soon. It’s just not worth the hassle of pushing through the crowds for the few things left at Costco I can’t get elsewhere without the parking, crowds, lines, etc.

  3. 4 SunnyinFL // 2013.03.24 at 11:59 am

    We are devastated, as well! At first, we just thought Costco moved our favorite cereal. Soon, we had this niggling feeling in the pit of our stomach that another of our favorite products had been discontinued. We’ve been searching every Costco in the Central Florida region in hopes of finding a few boxes of Kirkland Raisin Bran… to no avail. This morning, a Costco employee confirmed….it’s a goner! I can’t imagine eating any other raisin bran. They all turn to mush.

  4. 5 Susan // 2013.01.19 at 6:09 pm

    Now I’m really going crazy…not only have the bran muffins gone the way of the dinosaur, now…get this…Costco has dropped the Kirkland brand of Raisin Bran cereal and now will carry Kellogg’s Raisin Bran. No comparison, folks. Kellogg’s goes soggy, mushy, yucky as soon as the milk hits it. The Kirkland brand is so superior as to not be in the same league. The flakes are bigger and about 4 times as thick…crunchy, tasty and hold up to the milk. My only complaint was there were TOO many raisins in this cereal…I’d pick out about 2/3 and toss them. I don’t know who makes these kinds of decisions at the corporate level of Costco, but they’re doing a really poor job, in my humble opinion. I’m truly baffled and can only shake my head in disappointment. Think I’ll just bite the bullet and go buy a box of Pop Tarts, or something…

  5. 6 Marion MacKenzie // 2013.01.17 at 8:22 pm

    I again asked today when they are going to sell their bran muffins. I was previously told it would be for a while during winter for a few weeks – that they didn’t sell. I’m in Reno, NV. My original thought was that people are going more for the unhealthy “crap” like double chocolate, etc muffins. Surprised there are more people like me. Breakfast just isn’t the same. Have gone back to toast .

  6. 7 deb // 2012.12.28 at 3:01 pm

    I wrote about the disappearance of these muffins on this post when it first started also. I love Costco, however, maybe the big pharmaceutical companys bought out Costco on these particular muffins. (Tongue in cheek) I mean let’s face it, these bran muffins (besides tasting good) was keeping people’s digestive tracts healthy and moving with regularity. That takes money out of the big greedy drug maker’s hands. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve bought someone/company off…Just sayin’.

  7. 8 Bill Carroll, Sr // 2012.12.28 at 12:04 pm

    It’s two and a half years since I started this blog and am astounded that a company with a reputation for honesty and good busines practices like Costco still won’t tell us the real reason they abandoned these muffins.

    They keep hiding under the blanket statement that they weren’t selling. Obviously not particularly true because while they only made that at Tucson Costco West one day a week they always sold out.

    Most Costco members I know love Costco and respect their decision making that brings us good value, but do resent not being given the straight info on why they discontinued these muffins.

    Bill Carroll, Sr

  8. 9 Michael Sheaver // 2012.12.28 at 11:20 am

    I am another disappointed fan who SO misses those wonderful muffins! I especially miss the yummy layer of brown sugar (or whatever) they put on the bottom. Has anybody found a recipe for these so we can make them at home? Please share it with the rest of the deprived souls our there! :)

  9. 10 Bill Carroll Sr // 2012.09.14 at 9:30 am

    Susan: I started this Blog 6 29 10 after the Tucson AZ West store had long since stopped baking the bran muffins. So I wouldn’t wait for your store to decide when their “bran muffin season” will return them to your stores. The Tucson West store refuses to even offer that hope to it’s customers. I hope you keep bugging them at your stores to get them back on the shelf. I’ve long since given up on it and continue to buy my muffins at the local Mimi’s Restaurant at about twice the price. I still believe it has to be either a price problem where the store managers or the home office decides they are not profitable enough or for some baking process thta causes difficulties for the bakers. I only started this blog after I found out that the competing Sams Club stores stopped selling bran muffins also. So if it’s not a price factor I’ll go back to perhaps thinking someone just not wanting Americans to eat healthy foods. Anyway keep us posted about your efforts – and let us know where your store is located. On May of this year Suzanne wrote that the Fullerton Californa store is still selling them and there are a couple more of these blog messages that report stores that are still sellling them. Good luck in your efforts.
    arizbill

  10. 11 Susan // 2012.09.14 at 4:57 am

    I continue to bug the people at Costco every time I shop there, which is admittedly less often now that they dropped my bran muffins. All the cashiers I asked agreed that the bran muffins sold like hotcakes. They gave me the same old story that it was entirely up to corporate to determine what mixes got sent to their bakery. I figure if I continue to bug them and drop notes in their “suggestion” box near the exit that I’ll eventually break them down. (I like to give myself more power than I actually have, I guess, but a gal can hope!)
    They also tell me that bran muffins are “seasonal”, which I think is ridiculous! I just don’t understand who would want to buy the crummy chocolate or blueberry that they always have their shelves loaded up with? There sure seems to be a lot of them left on those shelves late in the days.

  11. 12 Bill Carroll, Sr // 2012.09.05 at 8:23 pm

    Jeetdo: i agree with your comments regarding the greatly increased price of muffin mix but I’m sure just the fact that all commodities seem to be on the rise as a result of the rapid inflation consuming the American Dollar. Seems like the past dozen years have seem the price of most commodities being increased many times over.

    I’m sure your advice is good about not buying till the price Bran mix till the price goes down.

    However, there I ave a couple problems with that. First, I’m not only Addicted to Costco but I’m also Addicted to Bran Muffins for their good taste and their health functions for my body. Second For the close to 50 years my wife was with me she did the bran muffin baking and now that I’m widowed I just dont feel I have the time or energy to do my own baking while my addiction continues.

    Sincerely

    arizbill@gmail.com. .

  12. 13 Jeetdo // 2012.09.05 at 4:35 pm

    The answer is $$$$ money, moolah, dollar bills y’all. They have doubled the price on the muffin mix in case you finally realized you need a budget and you could make them yourself cheaper and way more nutritious. The law of economics is stimulate the demand, like casinos and pretty soon your customers think they can’t do without you or your muffins. Jiffy Bran muffin mix used to cost 79cents, as all the other muffin mix did. Why did bran double? As people cut back on spending and eating more healthy, sometimes healthy is cheaper, the food industry gouges you on the trends. Don’ t buy it Til the price comes down. I won’ t. Food as a weapon, OBSCENE!!!!! Just my humble critical thinking opinion.

  13. 14 Susan // 2012.07.31 at 9:18 pm

    I’m with you 100%. I eat a half of a Costco bran muffin every day for breakfast, but haven’t been able to find them the past 3 times I’ve gone into the store. Nobody working there can give me an answer beyond, “try again tomorrow!” I’m tired of lugging myself in there just to be disappointed. We were buying them by the dozen and freezing them so we’d have them on hand but now they’re all gone and I’m going through bran muffin withdrawal!! Costco: Bring back the bran!!! Your customers want them more than clogged aisles from sample hawkers! I don’t believe for a minute that they don’t sell well. Just look at the responses to this message!

    • 15 Arizona Bill // 2012.08.01 at 4:42 am

      Susan: Don’t hold your breath for your Costco starting to bake the Bran Muffins again. It’s been 2 or 3 years now since the Tucson Costco’s shut down on baking the Bran Muffins. I’m still guessing it had to do with raised prices of commodities like bran. At least I’d hate to think it was part of a conspiracy to keep us from eating the most healthy muffins around. But at the time they had been only baking them once a week while they baked others more often. And I think they just got tired of having people like me calling and asking “What day are you going to be cooking bran muffins this week.”

      Mimi’s restaurant is the next best I could find but a wee bit more expensive. They may well be a little better tasting and a little larger but they are also costlier. It’s Fourteen dollars and some change for a dozen. I still buy by the dozen also and am still freezing mine too.

      If you read all the letters to Costco on this Bran Muffin website you will find that a couple stores are still baking and selling them. But none in my part of the country.

      Arizona Bill

      • 16 Susan // 2012.08.02 at 8:34 pm

        Bill: The local store told my mom they just bake whatever muffins they get sent the ingredients for so it sounds like it’s time to start bombarding corporate Costco with repeated requests for our bran muffins! I live in Clearwater, FL and have never heard of Mimi’s so I’m out of luck. I’d happily pay more if I could find the equal. I felt better and my body ‘worked better’ when I ate the bran muffins every day. I don’t want pineapple, chocolate, or any of the other nasty looking muffins they sell. It’s a shame they won’t bring them back. Today I spent about 15 minutes on the phone waiting to speak to someone at the store who could help me get to the bottom of this and they eventually just said, “hold for a minute” and hung up on me. They’re all so nice in person, but get them on the phone and it’s another story…just too much bother for them to try to help. I’m going to try to find who to contact in the corporate offices and start bugging them mercilessly. Thanks for the reply! Susan

    • 17 Bill Carroll Sr // 2012.08.02 at 9:31 pm

      Susan:

      The answers I’ve heard from Corporate Costco is that the Store Managers are left to make the decision of what muffin they want to produce and order their own materials. And that if they aren’t choosing to make them it’s because they weren’t selling.

      I really think that they probably quit making them because the costs of the ingredients is greater for bran muffins then for the other unhealthy muffins they bake and therefore their profit are not as great. Either that or they don’t like the constant phone calls they get from people asking what day of the week they were going to produce them. I was calling regularly about that before the just stopped selling them at the Tucson stores about the same time that Sam’s clubs started producing them. Or is Bran getting scarce and the price rising sharply like a lot of other commodities

      I certainly don’t think it would hurt to pepper them with complaints but doubt it would do any good. Someone at or near the top must monitor websites like the one I started.

      Click on the following link for Mimi’s Cafe’s in Florida: http://www.mimiscafe.com/LocationsState.aspx?State=FL

      A google search on just Mimi’s Cafe will bring you a map showing you all of the states that do have Mimi’s. The lower half of the United states all have them. Apparently they haven’t expanded to the northern states yet.

      arizbill@gmail.com

      mplete sympathy with you and am happy I have found another source. Mimi’s is really Mimi’s Cafe : I’m in co

      and from coast to coast across the mid to southern half of the U. S. Apparently they have not yet expanded into the northern states.

  14. 18 Bill From Tucson // 2012.05.23 at 2:16 pm

    Suzannah: You lucky lady living close to a store that continues to bake and sell those delicious muffins. I would recommend that we nominate him for a citation for his making this healthy product available to his customers. (I’m sure it is healthy even with the 400+). And I do as you suggested when I eat my Mimi’s brand muffins. (1/2 at a time.)

    But I would be afraid that to make him aware of such recognition may make him decide that he wants to do what so many store managers have done — discontinue baking the bran muffins.

    I still doubt there explanation that they don’t sell, because my Costco store only made them one day a week and I doubt they ever had any left unsold. I suspect the real reason many stores have discontinued them is that
    1. They got tired of constant phone calls from people who wanted to know if they were baking bran muffins today or
    2. The cost of bran was rising in comparison to components for other muffins or
    3. They had joined the ranks of bakers that want to discourage good health and want their customers eating the sweeter and less healthy muffins.

    Sincerely

    Bill from Tucson
    Arizbill@gmail.com

    P. S. if you ever find out the sodium content, please pass this information on.

  15. 19 Suzannah // 2012.05.23 at 1:54 pm

    FYI, I just finished a Costco Bran muffin, I purchased it at the Fullerton store. The only problem I have is that I had no idea of how calorie laden they are 400+ If I had know that I would have only had half. They are really delicious.

  16. 20 Carolyn // 2012.05.15 at 12:58 pm

    Hey Bill, you have another bran muffin lover who would sign a petition. I first tried them in Haleiwa, Hi in 2009/2010. We were in Hawaii for a few weeks on vacation. When I went back to Costco for supplies I was told by the bakery manager that they don’t sell so they stopped baking them. Moved from Washington to California. Never saw them at the Washington Costco, but did find them at a San Jose, CA Costco. Again, I was told last week that they did not sell so they stopped making them. I would be happy to get the recipe and make my own at this point. I miss my muffins:-)….

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