he arrival of the new Kirkland Signature™ ¼ Pound Plus all-beef hot dog at
Food Courts in many parts of the country has prompted Costco members to ask
what happened to the kosher hot dog they’ve been eating for years, and the
bigger question: Why did Costco mess with something that wasn’t broken—or was it?
Worldwide in 2008, Costco sold more than 82 million quarter-pound hot dogs in
its Food Courts. This year that number will be close to 90 million. Going forward,
those numbers will continue to rise.
What’s not rising is the availability of kosher raw materials and kosher production-
plant capacity for making those hot dogs. Clearly the kosher meat industry never
anticipated the high demand that Costco’s continued growth represents.
Costco, which had relied on the two national suppliers of kosher hot dogs since
the mid-’80s, became concerned in 2007 over troubling signs in the kosher meat
industry that ultimately led to a decrease in supply. A decision was made to investigate
and develop Costco’s own Kirkland Signature–brand hot dog.
Timing is everything, because by the end
of 2008 three events had coincided: One of the
original hot dog suppliers made the decision
to quit the kosher meat business; one of the
largest kosher raw-ingredient suppliers was
closed down; and Costco was ready to test its
new hot dog in a couple of warehouses.
Back when the original hot dog carts
were conceived, the desire was to deliver a
quality product. With hot dog industry standards
at an all-time low in 1984, going with a
kosher product was the best way to insure
consistent quality at that time. Kosher—
which literally means “fit” or “proper”—was
a good starting point in addressing food safety concerns.
Today’s standards for hot dogs have shifted in a positive way, reinforced by
stricter product labeling and better-than-ever food safety guidelines.
As with the hundreds of other Kirkland Signature products, Costco has been able
to focus on the best processing plants in the industry—all with full-time U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service supervision.
The new Kirkland Signature ¼ Pound Plus hot dogs are about 10 percent heavier
and longer than the old quarter-pound hot dogs and are made from 100 percent beef
with only fresh USDA Choice or better cuts. This high-quality hot dog has been developed
without fillers, binders, phosphates, corn syrup, artificial color and artificial flavors,
which are frequently found in other brands, including some of the kosher brands.
Everything about the new hot dog is high in quality. In blind taste tests against
the older brands, the Kirkland Signature hot dog won consistently. You owe it to yourself to see if it lives up to your expectations of quality and value.