Why Is Costco's Rotisserie Chicken So Cheap?

iStock.com/LauriPatterson
iStock.com/LauriPatterson

Rotisserie chicken is a quick, easy meal with frequent leftovers. Couple that with the fact that Costco's ready-to-eat version costs less than raw chicken, and it might be tempting to give up cooking altogether. So why exactly does Costco's four-pound bird cost a paltry sum of $4.99, and why don't they raise the price?

When Barclays analyst Meredith Adler asked Costco CFO Richard Galanti this question in 2015, he responded, "I can only tell you what history has shown us: When others were raising their chicken prices from $4.99 to $5.99, we were willing to eat, if you will, $30 to $40 million a year in gross margin by keeping it at $4.99. That's what we do for a living."

In other words, it's their business philosophy—plain and simple. (The company has the same rule about keeping their concession hot dogs and soda at an inflation-ignoring $1.50.) Some were skeptical, though. According to Money, a more likely explanation is that the chicken is a "loss leader" that's meant to lure customers into the store later in the day—especially around dinner time. The hope is that these hungry customers will pick up a few other items they wouldn't have bought otherwise. As CNBC points out, that's why the rotisserie chicken counters are strategically located at the back of the store.

One other theory is that Costco sometimes has a high supply of chickens, and instead of throwing them away when they're about to expire, they cook them and sell them as ready-to-eat food. After all, making less money is better than making no money at all. "What's more, if the rotisserie chickens don't sell, the meat can be used in soup, chicken salad, and other profitable deli items," Money writes.

Whatever the exact reason, Costco is going to great lengths to hold its prices steady. According to Eater, the company will be launching its very own chicken farming operation in Nebraska. That way, it will no longer be entirely dependent on the chicken "monopoly" dominated by companies like Tyson and Perdue, whose prices have increased in recent years. Costco plans to raise 100 million chickens annually, which will supply them with 43 percent of the poultry needed for its rotisserie chicken counter, as well as one-third of the raw birds needed to stock the meat section. The company has already broken ground on a poultry processing facility in Fremont, Nebraska (roughly an hour outside of Omaha), and it also plans to construct a feed mill and over 500 barns.

It looks like families will continue serving up $5 rotisserie chicken for some time to come.

[h/t Eater]

McDonald’s Is Testing Out Vegan McNuggets in Norway

McDonald's has never been an especially welcoming place for vegans (until 1990, even the fries contained meat). But now, the chain's Norwegian locations are working to change that. As Today reports, McDonald's restaurants in Norway have launched a vegan nugget alternative to the classic chicken McNugget.

The new vegan McNuggets are prepared to look like the menu item customers are familiar with. They're coated with a layer of breadcrumbs and fried until they're golden-brown and crispy. Instead of chicken meat, the nugget is filled with plant-based ingredients, including mashed potatoes, chickpeas, onions, corn, and carrots.

The vegan McNuggets are only available to customers in Norway for now, but if they're popular, they may spread to McDonald's in other parts of the world. Norway's McDonald's locations also include a Vegetarian McFeast burger on its menu.

McDonald's is famous for tailoring its menus to international markets, and vegetarian options are much easier to find in restaurants some parts of the world compared to others. In India, where one fifth of the population is vegetarian, customers can order the McAloo Tikki Burger, made from potatoes and peas, or a McVeggie sandwich.

[h/t Today]

All-Marshmallow Boxes of Lucky Charms Are Back, But Not Everyone Will Be Able to Get One

Lucky Charms
Lucky Charms

Hot on the heels of a Virginia brewery's cereal-inspired marshmallow beer, another way for grown adults to feel like kids again has emerged. Marshmallow-only Lucky Charms are back—this time with unicorn and rainbow shapes. Unfortunately, only 15,000 boxes of the sweet stuff are up for grabs.

If you were already planning on treating yourself by picking up some regular Lucky Charms from your local supermarket, be on the lookout for promotional boxes that say “You could win a box of only marshmallows” on the front. The inside panels of those boxes contain codes that can be entered at MarshmallowOnly.com for your chance to win one of the rare pure-marshmallow boxes. The promotion will run through the summer, so you’ll have plenty of time to enter up to 30 codes. Here's a list of participating retailers carrying the coded boxes [PDF].

This isn’t the first time that General Mills, the maker of Lucky Charms, has held this sweepstakes. In 2015, the company gave away 10 boxes of marshmallow-only cereal (or, as it calls the sugary shapes, “marbits”). Based on the popularity of that promotion, it handed out 10,000 boxes in 2017.

"It's no secret that Lucky Charms fans love the marshmallows," Scott Baldwin, director of marketing for cereal at General Mills, said in a statement. "Consumers have flooded our inboxes and swept our social feeds begging for Lucky Charms Marshmallow Only to return. You asked, and we listened!"

If you’re not feeling especially lucky, you can buy similar versions of the marshmallows on Amazon. Retailers like Medley Hills Farm and Hoosier Hill Farm (which are apparently unrelated companies) sell one-pound bags of cereal marshmallows for $11 and $10, respectively. You can also order an 8-pound bag, or, if you’re feeling especially peckish, a 40-pound case of dehydrated marshmallows for $228. As one Amazon reviewer wrote, it's “just the right amount."

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