This Week at Costco – September 14, 2014

September 20th, 2014 by Kimberly · 1 Comment

It is beginning to look at lot like Fall here in London.  And that means that Costco is starting to get things for Christmas already.  It seems that Christmas creep gets earlier and earlier every year, doesn’t it?   This week I’ve been busy starting my own Christmas planning, trying to get plane tickets for my mom to come visit in December and figure out what fun things we can do around London and Europe while she is here.  So, I’ve got my own Christmas thing going.  I’ve actually felt like a travel agent this week booking flights for Dave and I to visit the US and then buying tickets for my mom to come to London, plus I’ve been planning our own little holiday in Bavaria and Austria for this weekend.  Julie the Cruise Director, at your service!

If you’re in the UK, don’t forget that this is the last weekend for the current coupon book.  I’m going to be a bit late getting the new UK coupon book posted because I’ll be out of town this weekend.  But I’m positive that the new set of coupons will be starting on Monday.  I’ll be sure to post them when I get back though!

Kirkland Signature Tilapia Loins

Kirkland Signature Tilapia Loins

Kirkland Signature Tilapia Loins – Normally, we always get the KS Salmon Fillets, but this time I thought I’d change it up with a white fish instead.  I know, I’m crazy!  Tilapia has a nice tender white flesh with a nice flavour.  The fillets aren’t very thick but if you bake them they can take up to 30 minutes to cook.  We often sauté ours instead because they cook more quickly, about 15 minutes, and you can also impart a bit of additional flavour during the cooking process.  I like to cook them with a touch of lemon juice, minced shallots, and capers because that is a combination that works really well for tilapia.  Much like the salmon, the tilapia loins are also individually vacuum packed and flash frozen so they maintain a fresh taste and don’t get freezer burn or stuck to the other pieces of fish in the package.  The loins are also skinless and boneless, so you don’t even have to mess with that when you are preparing them.  It is best if you thaw them in the fridge for several hours or overnight but you can quick thaw them.  I’ve thawed them both ways and haven’t seen too much of a difference in texture.  Tilapia is a really lean fish that is low in fat and calories, so they’re a great protein source.  They also contain the nutrients phosphorus, niacin, selenium, vitamin B12, and potassium.  Also, because they have a vegetarian diet primarily and are a fast growing fish, they don’t have a problem with high levels of mercury.   All of which makes tilapia a great choice of fish.  The loins aren’t huge but if you combine them with a decent amount of vegetables and something starchy like potatoes, they make for a nice dinner.  We’ve tried these for fish tacos too and they work really well like that because they flake up really nicely after they’ve been cooked.  My only problem with the package at Costco is that there are nine loins in the bag and I wish there were either ten or eight for an even number for my family of two.  But that is a pretty minor complaint since the fish is high quality and tasty and that is all that matters really.     2.5 pounds for £9.99.  Item #: 0534441.

The Fresh Olive Company Hot Stuffed Olives

The Fresh Olive Company Hot Stuffed Olives

The Fresh Olive Company Hot Chilli Stuffed Olives -I love olives with some fresh bread and a nice cheese, but we’ve had a bit of bad luck sometimes with the olives at Costco.  They used to have a brand that consistently overdid it with the vinegar in the liquid that the olives are come in, so it made the olives taste bad.  I was really reluctant to try these but we thought we’d give them a try since it’s been a while since we have bought olives at Costco.  I couldn’t remember the “bad” brand, so we took the gamble.  Plus, these are stuffed with hot chillies and we both liked the sound of that.   The olives are all green and they are stuffed with whole red and green chillies.  The whole red chillies have a powerful kick to them but the greens ones aren’t as hot.  I love hot foods, but even some of the big red chillies made me reach for something to stop the burn on my tongue.  The good news is that the liquid didn’t taste like straight vinegar so the olives still had a nice flavour.  There are a lot of olives in this big tub at Costco, which means that you are going to be stuck with a lot of olives if you don’t like them.  On the flip side, that also means that you’ll have a lot of really yummy olives when you discover that you love them.  We ended up finding them really tasty, but have discovered that because of the hot chillies you can’t eat as many of these at one time as you can with regular olives.  So, just keep that in mind.  Generally, I would say that Costco offers better prices on their olives than you will find at the regular bunch of supermarkets, but I couldn’t find these same ones anywhere else for a direct comparison.    600 grams for £4.99.  Item #: 0154261.

Ermes Fontana Italian Antipasto Selection

Ermes Fontana Italian Antipasto Selection

Ermes Fontana Italian Antipasto Selection –  I think I’ve probably talked about my love of the Italian meats and salamis enough that everyone here probably knows I’m a big fan.  I love it just about as much as I love cheese.  So anytime I see a new selection of Italian meats in any format, I’m going to have to give it a try.  Also, the prices are so much better at Costco than any other supermarket, it is impossible for me to pass them up.  This week’s package is a selection of four different choices: Prosciutto di Culatello, Lonza Stagionata di Parma, Salami Milano, and Salami di Parma.  Prosciutto is pretty much always my favourite in selections like this, however, the lonza was excellent this time.  Lonza is the pork version of bresaola, which is beef, the slices are a little thicker than something as delicate as prosciutto and more full flavoured as a result.  For us, this is part of the perfect light summer meal, preferably on a picnic blanket in the park if the weather is cooperative.   If you combine this with some fresh bread, the hot olives (above), and a cheese or two of your choice, you can’t go wrong. The only issue I have with this selection was that it seemed to have much more salami than prosciutto or lonza, which is a shame since those are my favourites.   In any case, the whole selection was good, though because of the salami situation, it isn’t my favourite Italian meat selection I’ve picked up at Costco.  This package though would be a nice size for a pre-dinner item if you’re having friends around for dinner, or doing it like we did, I think you could probably serve three or four people without anyone feeling like they were getting the short end of the deal.   360 grams for £6.99.  Item #: 0159553.

Green Farm Roast Chicken Breast Slices

Green Farm Roast Chicken Breast Slices

Green Farm Roast Chicken Breast Slices –  This is one of those items that Costco had on demonstration that once we tasted, we had to get.  This definitely is the best sliced chicken lunch meat I’ve ever had.  Ever.  The chicken slices are really nice and thick and you can tell they actually came from a real chicken breast, not chicken breast press board type of concoction.  As a result of this the slices in the package do vary in size, as you would expect since the breast is smaller at the sides than in the middle.  However, the slices are evenly done with regards to thickness.  The chicken is tender and moist still and has lots of nice chickeny flavour.  Like real flavour, from a real chicken.  Delicious!  As a result of the nice thick slices you can make an outstanding sandwich, with just a couple of slices even.  Honestly, I made sandwiches that looked like they were going to a photo shoot!  And they tasted even better.  The chicken is low in fat, sugar and salt, as well as calories too, so it is a really healthy choice for your lunchtime sandwich.  And it is really reasonably priced too.  I paid almost this much for some sliced chicken from Ocado, and it wasn’t even as good frankly, plus it was a paltry 100 grams.  That’s a fifth of the size of the package a Costco and all you were saving was £0.80.  This is like the chicken you might make at home if you were enterprising enough to cook up a whole chicken and slice the breast into nice thick slices.  Of course, that is if you can keep your chicken juicy and flavourful while cooking it, which isn’t always a guaranteed thing.  I’m so glad that we tried this and that Costco was giving out the free samples.  And I definitely hope this is something that they keep carrying.  Just writing about this has made me wish I had another package of it now.  500 grams for £3.99.  Item #: 0120381.

Share

→ 1 Comment

Tags: Food Share

Costco Takes a Bite of Apple

September 18th, 2014 by Kimberly · 3 Comments

Good news, Costco US shoppers, if you like Apple products you will be happy to know that you can now purchase them at Costco again!  And this time, I’ve noticed, the relationship seems different right from the beginning.  They’ve got a full selection of Apple devices like the iPad, iPhone, iPods, and even the Apple TV, and of course, the iTunes gift cards.  And the biggest change?  You can find all of the Apple stuff devices at Costco.com too. I’ve also noticed that the emails I have received from Costco US where they are selling Apple items now use the “authorized reseller” logo from Apple, so it’s all totally sanctioned.    It seems the bad feelings of the past, as well as the bad deals for Costco, are well and truly in the past.  I wasn’t sure that Costco and Apple would come together again after the less than amicable parting at the end of 2010, so I’m glad to see they’ve made up and are back to being friends.

Apple Devices Return to Costco!

Apple Devices Return to Costco!

The inability to sell the new iPad, either online or in stores, was what seemed to be the impetus for the split in 2010, so it is good to see that they now have a ton of iPads for sale at Costco.com.  They’ve got the full sized ones, the mini, the Air, retina displays, and the iPads with cellular service too…you want it, they’ve got it now.  Plus, when you buy your iPad at Costco.com (or in the stores I imagine), you get a $40.00 iTunes gift card.  The only iPads not offering this deal online are the 16GB versions.  I think it is great that they have the various storage sizes – 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, and the jumbo 128GB too.  When I did a quick check on a 128GB iPad Air, the price at Costco.com is $779.99 whereas you’ll pay a bit more, $799.99, at Apple.  When I added in taxes for shipping to my mom in Kansas the prices were $843.56 at Costco and $864.12 at Apple.  So, either way, you are paying $20.00 less at Costco and getting the bonus of a $40.00 iTunes gift card to boot.  Not to mention you also get the 90 day return policy and the free technical concierge, as well.  I’d say you also get the second year of warranty too, but I’m not sure if an iPad is considered a “computer” by Costco (they only offer the second year of warranty on televisions, projectors, and new computers).  So, you definitely get a lot at Costco in the way of added value, plus you’ve saved $20.00 up front.

And if you are wondering, you can get all of the latest iPhones through Costco as well.  You can even reserve your very own shiny new iPhone 6, though sadly I didn’t see the iPhone 6 Plus.  The iPhones are sold through a Costco service provider and allows you to get your mobile service when you buy the phone.  Unfortunately, it looks like you are always going to be tied to a 2 year service contract too.  But that seems pretty standard, so it’s not really any different than buying your new phone through Apple.  Well, unless you go with T-Mobile and pay the full price of the phone up front for a contract free plan through Apple, but not through Costco.  For contracts through other carriers though it still looks like you are getting a bit of a savings of around $20.00 by setting up your new phone through Costco.

As I mentioned, Costco.com also has the Apple TV.  If you’re interested in picking one of these up, there’s a $10.00 off deal through the end of September, so the final price is $87.99.  Plus, you’ll get a free $15.00 iTunes gift card with your purchase.  The price at Apple is $99.00 for the device but right now you’ll get a $25.00 iTunes gift card with your purchase.  We like our Apple TV and find it great for viewing our own photos and media, as well as streaming stuff, some of it even free, from Apple.  Here in the UK, the prices on renting a movie are also better than you’ll find through Sky or Virgin but I’m not sure how they compare in the US.  I really like the AirPlay feature so that you can display what is on your Apple computer, iPad or iPhone on your television, which is great for playing games or working on something as a group.

Now if they’d only get the Apple laptops and computers at Costco.com too, that would be great.

I’m not sure if the new CEOs of both companies are less stubborn and more ready to deal.  Or, maybe Tim Cook realized the value of selling through Costco since they’ve given Costco more latitude now, it seems, to offer discounts and sell online. I’m not sure exactly how this finally worked itself out but I am glad that they were finally able to reach an agreement that was fair to both companies and get some Apple products back at Costco.

Welcome back, Apple!

Share

→ 3 Comments

Tags: costco.com · Electronics · services Share

Recall: Expo Fresh Tomatoes Recalled Over Possible Salmonella

September 16th, 2014 by Kimberly · No Comments

A voluntary recall was issued Saturday night by Taylor Farms, a California produce company, for some of their fresh tomatoes sold through some Costco stores in stores in California, Washington, and Nevada.  The company found salmonella during routine testing and proceeded with the recall as a result, though no illnesses from the tomatoes have been reported.

The tomatoes were sold as Expo Fresh Roma Tomatoes with a date for packing of September 5 or September 6.  These are the only bunches of tomatoes affected by the recall, so if you have some with another date they’re okay.  The Expo Fresh Roma Tomatoes were sold at Costco locations in Los Angeles and Hawthorne, California; Tacoma and Lynnwood, Washington; and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Also part of the recall, but not sold at Costco, were Sicilian Vegetable Salad kits, which contain the tomatoes, sold through deli counters at Safeway, Vons and Pavilions grocery stores in California, Nevada and Arizona with use-by dates of September 20 and September 21.

If you have the tomatoes or salad kits, you should not eat them and should either dispose of them or return them to your local Costco store (or the store where you bought the salad kit) for a refund.  But definitely don’t eat it!

No illnesses have been reported or associated with the tomatoes so far, so this is just a precautionary recall.  However, salmonella is nothing to mess around with.  This is definitely a case of better safe than sorry.  Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems.  Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

For more information:

Share

→ No Comments

Tags: Food · In the News · product recalls Share

Happy 31st Birthday, Costco!

September 15th, 2014 by Kimberly · No Comments

Today is a day to celebrate all things Costco!  It’s Costco’s 31st birthday!  In 1983, Costco opened their first location and they’ve been going strong ever since.  So, in honor of Costco’s big day, I’ve got 31 fun facts that you may or may not know about everyone’s favourite store.  Do you think they’re having a giant Costco Bakery cake for the big day?

Happy Birthday, Costco!

Happy Birthday, Costco!

  1. Costco was founded in Kirkland, Washington by James Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman.
  2. They opened the first store in Seattle, Washington on September 15, 1983.  Just thinking about that makes me want to break out my leg warmers.  What a feeling!    (Yes, that is a Flashdance reference.)
  3. In 1993, Costco merged with Price Club (called Club Price in the Canadian province of Quebec). Costco’s business model and size were similar to those of Price Club, which was founded by Sol and Robert Price in 1976 in San Diego, California. The combined company was named PriceCostco, which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.  [Dave used to be a Price Club member when he lived in Pasadena, California.  When we moved to London we finally got rid of the last bunch of Q-Tips he bought there.]
  4. In 1997, they changed the name to Costco Companies, Inc. and rebranded all of their locations.  Then, on August 30, 1999, Costco reincorporated in Washington (moving from a Delaware incorporation) and changed their name to Costco Wholesale Corporation.
  5. Costco trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “COST”.  They went public on December 5, 1985 at $10.00 per share (before stock splits); adjusting for stock splits, the initial price per share was approximately $1.67.  They had a 2 for 1 split in May 1991, a 3 for 2 split March 1992, and another 2 for 1 split in January 2000.  The closing price on September 12, 2014 was $125.37.  Since the IPO the stock price (adjusted for splits) has increased by $123.70 per share or a whopping 7,507%!  And that is just the change in stock price and doesn’t even begin to account for dividends.
  6. Costco has been paying a quarterly dividend since May 31, 2004, with an initial dividend of $0.10 per share.  Their last quarterly dividend was paid on July 25, 2014 at $0.355 per share.  In addition to the quarterly dividends they have had one special dividend of $7.00 per share paid on December 18, 2012.  As of October 9, 2013, Costco had 8,198 stockholders of record.
  7. Costco is currently headquartered in Issaquah, Washington in the US.  Canadian operations are headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.  The UK operations are headquartered in Watford, just outside of London, and where I currently do my shopping.  Australian Costco headquarters is located in North Ryde, New South Wales.  Costco’s Korean headquarters is located above their Gwangmyeong City location.  Kanagawa is the headquarters of the Japanese Costco operations.  The Taiwan headquarters is located in Neihu, Taipei.  The headquarters for Costco Mexico is located in Huixquilucan.  The new Spain operations are headquartered in Madrid, Spain (I think).
  8. As of today (September 15, 2014), Costco has a total of 663 warehouses: 468 locations in 43 US states and Puerto Rico, 88 locations in 9 Canadian provinces, 26 United Kingdom locations, 11 locations in South Korea, 10 locations in Taiwan (through a 55%-owned subsidiary), 20 locations in Japan, 6 Australian locations in 4 states, 33 warehouses in 18 Mexican states, and 1 location in Spain.
  9. Costco is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the world based on sales volume.  They are the second largest general retailer in the United States as of July 2012, and the seventh largest retailer in the world.  The main competitor in the membership warehouse space is Sam’s Club, though BJ’s Warehouse is also a strong competitor in certain markets. Sam’s Club has more warehouses than Costco, but Costco has a higher total sales volume.
  10. Costco became the first company ever to grow from zero to $3 billion in sales in less than six years.  For fiscal year 2013, which ended on September 1, 2013, Costco’s net sales were $103 billion; a 6% increase.  This represents the first time net sales exceeded $100 billion in the company’s history.
  11. The average size of a Costco warehouse is 143,000 square feet, with a range from 77,000 to 205,000 square feet. Newer locations are bigger with a size of 150,000 square foot. The largest Costco is located in Hillsboro, Oregon, as of 2005.  Their  average annual sales per warehouse increased to $160 million for FY2013.  By the end of 2012, eight warehouses exceeded $300 million in annual sales.
  12. Lighting costs are reduced on sunny days, as most Costco locations have several skylights. During the day, electronic light meters measure how much light is coming in the skylights and turn off an appropriate percentage of the interior lights. During a typical sunny day, it is very common for the center section of the warehouse to have no interior lights powered on.  (Good for your bank balance, and the environment.)  Also, Costco has placed rooftop solar photovoltaic systems on 60 of their buildings, which are projected to generate 55 million kWh of electricity per year.
  13. Across all locations world-wide, Costco employs about 184,000 workers: 103,000 full-time and 81,000 part-time employees, including seasonal workers (through end of financial year 2013).  While some former Price Club locations in California and the northeastern United States are staffed by Teamsters, the majority of Costco locations are not unionized. Only 13,800 Costco employees at certain locations in five states are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The non-union locations have revisions to their Costco Employee Agreement every three years concurrent with union contract ratifications in locations with collective bargaining agreements. Similar to a union contract, the Employee Agreement sets forth such things as benefits, compensations, wages, disciplinary procedures, paid holidays, bonuses, and seniority.  In the US, eighty-five percent of Costco’s workers have health insurance, compared with less than half at Walmart and Target.
  14. As of March 2011, non-supervisory hourly wages range from $11.00 to $21.00 in the United States, $11.00 to $22.15 in Canada.  In the UK, hourly employees range from a starting rate of £7.00 per hour, rising to £11.00 per hour and supervisory staff have starting salaries of £30,000pa.
  15. Costco usually limits marketing to new warehouse openings, occasional mailings to potential new members, and regular mailings to existing members, such as The Costco Connection, coupon mailers, and weekly email blasts from the websites in each several of the worldwide locations. This very targeted marketing approach results in lower marketing expenses when compared to other retailers.
  16. Costco is only open to members and their guests, except for purchases of liquor and gasoline in some U.S. states due to state law; and prescription drugs due to federal law.  Memberships must be purchased in advance for one year, however, a Costco memberships can be refunded in full at any time before they expire.
  17. There are more than 71 million Costco cardholders.  The member renewal rate last year was 90% in the U.S. and Canada and 86% worldwide.  Executive Members represent 38% of Costco’s members.
  18. In 2011, Costco increased membership fees for the first time in five years.  Currently membership fees at Costco US are $55.00 per year for Goldstar and Business Memberships or Executive membership for $110.00 per year. Along with the additional benefits the executive membership has, you also receive an annual “2% Rewards Check” of up to $750.00 from Costco on all purchases made (excluding select items such as gasoline, alcohol, and tobacco).  In the UK, membership is £20.00 for Trade membership (plus VAT) which includes a card for a spouse. People who work for the National Health Service, other government employers, or are employed in certain professions or industries are entitled to an individual membership, which costs £25.00.  You can also get an Executive Membership in the UK for £55.00 (plus VAT).  In Australia, membership is AUD$50.00 a year for a business membership, or AUD$60.00 a year for a Goldstar membership.  In Canada, membership is CDN $55.00 a year for a Gold Star membership, or CDN $110.00 a year for an Executive membership.  In Mexico, membership is MXN $450.00 a year for a Gold Star membership, or MXN $1000.00 a year for an Executive membership.  In Spain, membership is €30.00 plus VAT a year for a Gold Star membership, or €25.00 plus VAT a year for a Business membership.
  19. Costco warehouses generally operate on a seven-day, 69-hour week, open weekdays between 10:00 am and 8:30 pm, with earlier weekend closing hours. Gasoline operations generally have extended hours.  Costco locations outside of the US have varying hours but are also open 7 days a week, except in Korea where regulations require some locations to close on some Sundays.
  20. As of the end of 2013, Costco operated four ecommerce sites: Costco.com (US), Costco.ca (Canada), Costco.co.uk (UK), and Costco.com.mx (Mexico).  Purchases made through Costco’s websites do not require a membership; however, a 5% surcharge is added to purchases made by non-members.  In the UK you can get a special online subscription to make purchases online without the 5% surcharge for a yearly fee of £15.00.  In 2013, the Costco online sites generated sales exceeding $3 billion.
  21. The ACSI (The American Customer Satisfaction Index) named Costco number one in the retail industry with a score of 81 in 2006 and 2007, a score of 83 in 2008, an 81 in 2009, an 82 in 2010, a score of 83 in 2011 and 2012, and an 84 in 2013.  (Everyone loves Costco!)
  22. Costco caps its profit margin on most products at 14% or 15%, but generally limits price markup on products from 8%-10%.
  23. Costco does not carry multiple brands or varieties where the item is essentially the same except when it has a Kirkland Signature product, or a co-branded items.  This results in high volume of sales from a single vendor, allowing further reduction in price, and reducing marketing costs.  Costco carries an average of approximately 3,300 – 3,800 products per warehouse, as opposed to 45,000 to 140,000 products at other retailers or supermarkets.
  24. Costco introduced Kirkland Signature as its house brand in 1995. Items sold under the Kirkland Signature brand must meet or exceed the quality of the leading national brands, and must offer members the greatest value for their dollar.  Kirkland Signature products are generally rated highly. Consumer Reports has given high ratings for several products including batteries and laundry detergent. A number one rating was given to Kirkland Signature anodized cookware which sells for significantly less than some comparable products.  The Kirkland Signature products now represent 20% of the items Costco carries, but account for more than 20% of their sales dollars.  Kirkland Signature items include: chocolate chips, organic canned tomato products, organic honey, coffee, olive oil, household cleaning products, a variety of wine and spirits, and several women’s and men’s clothing items.
  25. American Express is the only accepted credit card (in the US, UK, Japan, Korea, and Canada) because they charge Costco very low interchange fees (a percentage of revenue from total sales made).  This is an unusual relationship for American Express, which typically charges higher fees to retailers than MasterCard or Visa.  If they don’t have an American Express, customers must pay by cash, check, or debit card.
  26. Since October 2007, Costco has been the largest retailer of fine wine in the world.  In 2012, Costco pharmacies was a $4+ billion retail business.  Also in 2012, Costco’s hearing aid center had $200 million in sales.   In fiscal year 2010, Costco sold 84,000 carats of diamonds.
  27. Costco Optical ranks as the fourth-largest optical company in the US with sales of $900 million in 2012.  And, you can use an FSA (flexible spending account) debit card to pay for your glasses.  According to Consumer Reports: Costco Optical earned the highest score for overall satisfaction among chains, and also beat out most of its competitors for price—a pair of glasses cost a median of $157 compared with a median of $211 at independent optical shops and $212 at eye doctors’ offices.
  28. In 1995, Costco opened their first gas station at their Tucson location (just a couple of years before we moved there and I fell in love with Costco).  In 2012, gasoline sales were up nearly 20%, for a total of more than $10 billion, or nearly three billion gallons of gasoline.
  29. In 2000, Costco started their Costco Travel business.  By 2005, over 57,000 vacation packages had been booked through Costco Travel.  Costco Travel is currently located in Issaquah, Washington and has around 300 employees.  You can make reservations either by calling them or through their CostcoTravel.com website.
  30. Most Costco locations have a food court. You can get a hot dog or Polish sausage, as well as pizza in most locations.  You can also get frozen yogurt in chocolate or vanilla, very berry smoothies, mocha latte freeze, chicken bake sandwiches, turkey wraps, chicken Caesar salads, twisted churros, and some locations now offer gelato.  You can get a quarter-pound hot dog or Polish sausage and 20 ounce drink (with free refill) for $1.50 in the US, the same price as when Costco opened their first hot dog cart in 1985  (and it is actually really tasty and a great lunch treat).  In Australia the hot dog is made of beef and is sold at A$1.99 with large soda.  In Mexico, the hot dog is made of pork, and includes a drink (with refill) for $25 MXN. In the UK, the hot dog is also made from beef and you also get a drink (with refill) for £1.50.  In Canada, the price is also $1.50 CAD.  Costco sold 91 million hot dog and soda meals in its food courts in 2009.  Starting in April 2013, Pepsi replaced Coke in the Costco food court.  The international location food courts all have items that cater to the local tastes but the hot dog and drink is offered at all locations and is very popular across all world-wide locations.
  31. This is the third Costco birthday since Craig Jelinek has assumed the roles of President and CEO at the beginning of 2012.  Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO, continues to act as a board member, he also acted as an advisor through February 2013.  Jeffrey Brotman, co-founder, is the current Chairman.

Happy Birthday, Costco!

Thirty-one facts for thirty-one years of great service, outstanding values, and interesting shopping.  How can you not love Costco even more after reading some of these amazing facts and tidbits?

By the way, if you’re wondering where I got all of this fascinating information, I will admit it all came from Costco with a bit of help from Wikipedia.  I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of Costco’s history and statistics.  That would just be crazy and weird. :-)  I am also somewhat re-posting this from previous years, with up to date information though.

Share

→ No Comments

Tags: General · Holidays · In the News Share

This Week at Costco – September 7, 2014

September 13th, 2014 by Kimberly · 1 Comment

We’re still kind of settling into the new flat, but it is so nice to have more space and be back in our old neighbourhood in London.  Dave’s got a separate room for an office now which is terrific, but does mean that we need to find him a better office chair.  We haven’t seen anything we like at Costco though, so we’re thinking we might have to go to….another store.  Shocking!  We’ve been holding off hoping that they’ll get something in that we like.

Kettle Chips Limited Edition Pack

Kettle Chips Limited Edition Pack

Kettle Chips Limited Edition – I usually buy some type of chips or crisp when we are at Costco to go with our lunchtime sandwiches.  Naturally when I saw the coupon for these (a couple of months ago now), I decided I would give them a try.  The three bags are a selection of Kettle Chips limited or seasonal edition flavours: lime and black pepper, jalapeño chilli salsa, and cheddar cheese and ale.  I think I prefer their non-limited edition varieties instead.  The jalapeño chilli salsa was sweet rather than spicy and the cheddar cheese and ale had a kind of odd flavour that neither of us particularly liked.  The lime and black pepper were okay and probably the best of the bunch but not really anything that I need to pick up again.  I guess I should have just stuck with our favourite sea salt and balsamic vinegar from Kettle Chips.  But sometimes you just gotta try new things.  I mean, they weren’t bad bad, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get them again.  What I do like about Kettle Chips, and what keeps me buying them, is how crunchy they are.  I also like that their flavours aren’t usually greatly overwhelming so you can still enjoy them with something like a sandwich without just tasting their flavours.  Plus, they don’t use artificial colours or flavours or anything like that.  They cook them in small batches too and I think that helps get them that super crunchiness. Kettle Chips also makes ridged chips which are outstanding and I wish that Costco would carry those too, especially the basic sea salt ones which are a favourite in our house.   With the coupon we save £1.05 off the three bags, so they were cheap enough that we didn’t mind giving the new flavours a try.  I mean they were less than £1.00 per bag, which is an exceptional deal considering a 150 gram bag is usually more like £1.50 – £2.00 per bag depending on supermarket deals.    3, 150 gram bags for £2.44 (£3.49 – £1.05 offer) (US: $3.97).  Item #: 0167205.

Kirkland Signature Balsamic Vinegar

Kirkland Signature Balsamic Vinegar

Kirkland Signature Balsamic Vinegar from Modena -Balsamic vinegar is one of those things that everyone that really likes to cook or considers themselves a “foodie” should have around the house because it can be used for a wide variety of things, from savoury to sweet.  We like it on salads, especially a nice tomato, basil, mozzarella one where we drizzle a little straight on.  Of course, you can also mix it with things to create a nice salad dressing, like the top notch KS Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  One way that I really like it is with sweet things, like strawberries or figs and vanilla ice cream.  It might sound gross to have vinegar and strawberries but it is surprisingly good.  Of course, balsamic vinegar has a more complex flavour than something like white or malt vinegar that is pretty much just the one acidic note, which is why it works so well with fruit.  And of course, I love it with cheese too; and not just because I love anything with cheese.  Sometimes you can use it straight from the bottle, other times it is nice to reduce it to thicken it and make it a little sweeter or into a sauce.  We use it in all kinds of ways and find it a useful way to add a nice flavour to various dishes, and luckily at Costco it is a good deal so we can experiment as much as we want.  The Kirkland Signature balsamic is actually produced in Italy for Costco, much like the KS olive oils.  The balsamic vinegar comes from Modena where it is produced and bottled by Acetum, the leading producer of balsamic vinegar in Modena.  The KS balsamic is certified by the Assaggiatori Italiani Balsamico (AIB), which is a pretty strenuous testing and tasting routine to grade the vinegar based on its aroma, taste, and visual properties.  The KS vinegar is designated “four leaves”, the highest quality rating of the AIB, which means it has a “superb and very sweet taste, flavorful aroma and syrupy consistency.” You can read more about the AIB system of classification here (it is in Italian though).   The price from Costco is really unbeatable given the quality of the balsamic, so if you like balsamic vinegar you really want to get it at Costco next time you are running low. 1 litre for £6.99 (US: $11.36).  Item #: 0046667.

Fresh Lychees

Fresh Lychees

Lychees – For those of you that are like “what’s a lychee?” I’ll give you the quick answer from Wikipedia:  “The fresh fruit has a “delicate, whitish pulp” with a floral smell and a fragrant, sweet flavor. Since this perfume-like flavor is lost in the process of canning, the fruit is usually eaten fresh.”   The difference between fresh and canned lychees is pretty huge because the canning process and syrup they are floating around in the cans really does overwhelm the very delicate flavour and you just totally lose the light floral aroma too.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the fresh lychees at Costco before, so when we saw them (in July) I had to get them.  The only tricky thing to buying fresh lychees is that you have to peel and pit them, but really it isn’t that hard and can be done with just your fingers or a small knife if you want to be more delicate.  The skin on a lychee is pretty thin despite its rough looking appearance and when they are fresh and ripe you can easily peel the skin away with your fingernail  just by kind of scratching the skin a bit and once you get a little break in the skin it will peel off.  The actual fruit inside the skin is white and kind of soft and feels a bit rubbery maybe, sort of like a grape without the skin, but luckily it isn’t that hard to get through either because you need to remove the pit as well, especially if you are serving them to people or going to put them in a drink or serve them in a salad.  Although, you can always spit the pit out while you are eating the fruit too which is much less messy and involved.  I will say that lychees are really juicy so they will make a mess if you are peeling and pitting them, so be prepared for that.  We ate ours just raw and without anything accompanying them but you can use them in lots of different ways.  Really though, the flavour is so light and delicate that just eating them by themselves is the best way to appreciate the taste, I think.  If you’re looking for more recipes or information about fresh lychees here’s a great post from Shockingly Delicious.  Aside from the gorgeous, florally taste lychees are actually packed with vitamin C too.  In a 100 gram serving of fresh lychees you’ll get 72 mg of vitamin C or roughly 86% of your daily requirement.  If you eat about nine peeled fresh lychees you’ll have met your daily needs for vitamin C.  Other than that though, they’re not really packing a nutritional punch, just a lot of flavour.    700 grams for £3.79 (US: $6.16).  Item #: 0056134.

Sharp Solo R-28STM Microwave

Sharp Solo R-28STM Microwave

Sharp Solo R-28STM Microwave – Our new flat is great and a big improvement over the last one.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a built-in microwave like every other flat we’ve rented in London.  It’s not that we use a microwave all that often, but we do like to have one for defrosting things, reheating leftovers, and simple things like steaming vegetables.  I was hoping that Costco would have one that had a decent array of functions with a small price tag, and luckily, Costco had us covered.  It’s a pretty standard 800 watt microwave clad in stainless steel with push buttons and a knob for all of the controls and inside it has a glass turntable.  There are six auto-cooking options plus an express cook and an express defrost setting.  All you need to do to use the automatic settings is enter the weight and food type and the oven will automatically calculate the correct cooking or defrosting time and power level.  If you like to take a more hands on approach, there are five different power levels so that you can defrost or heat up as slowly or quickly as you want.  Setting the timer is pretty easy as well and there’s even a quick one minute start button so you can get to heating while you adjust the time more exactly with the knob.  There’s also a clock which is handy for people like us that don’t have a clock on the oven in our kitchen.  On the box it says that there is a child lock but I’m not really sure how that works, but thought I should mention it.  We’ve only used the microwave a few times to defrost a reheat a couple of things but it works really well and is even easy to clean.  If you use your microwave more for cooking, you might really like the delay start function too.  I haven’t tried that yet but think it is kind of an interesting option.  Since it is freestanding it is great that isn’t super oversized and won’t take up a ton of space.  It’s big enough to do the job for anything we’d put in it and it is easy to use, so we couldn’t really ask for anything more.  The price was reasonable at Costco since I’ve seen this for £80+ at other retailers.   £59.99 (US: $97.53).  Item #: 0151900.

Share

→ 1 Comment

Tags: appliances · Food · Household Items Share

Subscribe