New Sample Kiosks Have Been Spotted At Costco

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say Costco is one of the most beloved stores in America, so when it makes any potential changes to services like free samples, people pay attention. While the cavernous mega store might be best known to most people for its low prices on bulk goods, true fans know it is also one of the best places to grab a bite: Costco's hot dogs are both famously good (even Julia Child loved them) and cheap, with a $1.50 price tag that hasn't changed since the 80s. The bounty also extends beyond basic food court picks to their cordon-bleu-like chicken bakes and inflation-defying $4.99 rotisserie chickens. And then there are the free samples.

Friendly workers distributing toothpick bites of cheese, meat, and other goodies are a quintessential part of the Costco experience. There is so much free fare to be had on any given day that Costco lovers have boasted about making entire meals out of the freebies. Fans have even figured out the exact days to shop at Costco if you want the biggest selection of samples. That level of devotion is why people are already on top of a huge potential change coming to the free morsels, as new worker-free kiosks pop up in stores.

Costco fans are sharing photos of free sample kiosks

The first photos of new, unattended kiosks holding free samples have popped up on social media in the past few days, with Instagram user @costcodeals sharing an image of a stand for Mott's gummies from a Costco in Issaquah, Washington. The same picture has also spread to the Reddit page for Costco fans, sparking speculation about how the addition will prevent people from taking too many freebies and how this will affect store employees. The photo shows a pretty basic, non-electronic display filled with samples, where shoppers can simply walk up and grab a treat without anyone working at the station.

It's unclear how widely these kiosks will be used as Costco hasn't made any announcements, and the simplicity of the display means it could just be temporary. A Costco representative informed Tasting Table the wholesale chain has no comment at this time on the new sample station. The original poster noted "hearing" that the stands were due to a shortage of workers, which is pretty plausible given the entire food retail industry's ongoing issues with staffing. Wal-Mart-owned rival Sam's Club has already gone in this direction, turning to an automated electronic distribution system that gives out samples when a QR code is scanned.

We will have to wait for a better idea of how these kiosks will play out. In the meantime, seeing a gray metal bin in place of a human may be a bit of a disappointment for some fans, as it doesn't quite replicate Costco's normal free sample experience.