Costco Is One Of America's Most Successful Pizza Chains
It’s pizza week at Cracked. We were very hungry when thinking of this week’s theme.
What are America's biggest pizza chains? Pizza Hut and Domino's are the top two, of course, the only ones with more than 10,000 stores. The next two, Papa Johns and Little Caesars, have around 4,000 stores each, and no other chain comes anywhere close. Just outside the top 10 is a chain with around 600 outlets selling fresh pizza: Costco. That makes Costco one of the biggest pizza chains in the country, even though it's not what most people would consider a pizza chain at all.
This reveals an important lesson: "Number of stores" is a dumb metric, and this stat is totally pointless.
Wait, hold on, maybe it's not. First off, to clarify, we're not talking about a supermarket selling frozen pizza. We're talking about the Costco food court, which often has its own indoor and outdoor seating and is visited even by people who aren't there to shop. And while we have a whole lot of stock pizza insults ready to mock Costco's assembly line fare, we're not going to use them because the consensus is that Costco pizza is pretty good actually.
The secret? Maybe people rate the pizza so highly just because it's so cheap. Or maybe those diners who are also shoppers are so famished from wandering the warehouse that all food tastes better than it should. Or maybe it's the pizza robot. They have a machine that dribbles sauce on the pie, working from the outside in as the dough rotates, to distribute the sauce evenly.
The only reason we might want to stick an asterisk next to Costco in the pizza hall of fame is that, possibly, they're not selling pizza at all. They're kind of giving it away. Like we just said, their pizza's cheap, $2 for an enormous jumbo slice or $10 for an 18-inch extra-large. That's so cheap, the pizza kitchen has to be losing money, or at least not making anywhere as much as they could.
It's possible they run the food court at a loss, to sell memberships (even though you often don't need a membership to visit the food court) and to get people to come to the store. That's why they sell whole rotisserie chickens for $4.99, and why they've sold a hotdog and a soda for just $1.50 since 1985. The way the CEO tells it, he once told the founder they had to raise the price, and the founder said, "If you raise the effing hot dog, I will kill you. Figure it out."
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