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7 Biggest Changes Costco Made This Year

From the food court to the frozen section, here's the biggest changes Costco made during 2021.
FACT CHECKED BY Amanda McDonald

This year was a crazy one for Costco. America's beloved bulk warehouse store saw many changes, especially after the pandemic turned shopping upside down.

In 2021 Costco brought back formerly discontinued items, made more safety modifications due to COVID-19, said farewell to its photo centers, and had items go viral on TikTok. Let's look back at the biggest changes our favorite warehouse made in the last 12 months.

Related: 4 Best New Bakery Items Costco Added in 2021

1

The churro returned.

churros
Shutterstock

Back in May, Costco brought back one of its most popular food court items, the churro, and it's better than ever. The new and improved churro is "Bigger, dough braided with butter and cinnamon," says Reddit user @Costco Panda. (Not all members were impressed, though—read all about their reasons for being disappointed here.)

However, the larger food court treat also comes with a higher price tag. The new churros are $1.49 compared to $.99. Calories in the cinnamon twist treat also increased from 490 to 570, which makes sense given the larger size.

2

Costco added touchless dispensers in the food court.

costco touchless dispensers
SoylentJelly/Reddit

This year Costco introduced touchless soda and condiment dispensers to its food court as part of the chain's pandemic safety measures. All members have to do is place their food or cup underneath the dispenser's spout and hover their hand over the sensor to activate the desired beverage or condiment.

In a Reddit thread, @breathfromanother posted a photo of the touchless condiment dispenser which looked quite messy based on the globs of excess ketchup and mustard left below the spouts. The touchless soda dispensers don't seem to be a hit either. Another user commented that these aren't the only issues. "The one's installed on the Pepsi machines don't work either," they say.

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3

Costco became a COVID-19 vaccination site.

Costco COVID-19 vaccine
Shutterstock

This year the wholesale chain partnered with the FDA to offer the COVID-19 vaccinations to the public through its pharmacy. In April, Costco began using an external scheduling service to book vaccine appointments that shows people available times in the area.

"To book a vaccine appointment, go to Costco.com/covid-vaccine and click 'All U.S. Locations.' Then select 'Get Started,' and choose your desired Costco pharmacy,' Eat This, Not That! previously reported. 

As of a website update on Nov. 30, all individuals over the age of 18 are eligible to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. "Walk-in appointments may be accommodated based on current wait times. Or, save time by setting up an appointment," per Costco's suggestion.

4

All photo centers were closed.

costco photo center
Shutterstock

On Feb. 14, members could no longer go into a warehouse to use the photo center. However, services like printing, enlargements, greeting cards, calendars, photo books, photo blankets, business printing, and canvas prints are still available online with direct shipping to members' homes. To place an order, visit CostcoPhotoCenter.com, plus the warehouse's home movie service is still available at CostcoDVD.com.

While all of these services are here to stay through Costco's online presence, the brand will no longer offer passport photos or photo restoration. Costco loyalists will also be sad to learn that the $8-10 ink cartridge refills, as opposed to paying $16 for a new one, are also disappearing.

5

Costco started selling a Chick-fil-A chicken nugget dupe.

Just Bare frozen chicken nuggets from Costco
Kiersten Hickman/Eat This, Not That!

The Just Bare Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Chunks sold at Costco went viral on social media early in January 2021 for being coined as identical to Chick-fil-A's beloved nuggets.

A TikTok by @FloridaMomof3 and her daughter trying the product racked up over 474K likes, which prompted other TikTokkers to try these nuggets. @CostcoHotFinds called them a "must try," as their video received about 73K likes on TikTok.

The Just Bare nuggets from Costco contain four pounds of chicken in each bag and cost $19.89 per Instacart, which is quite a steal considering an eight-count order of Chick-fil-A nuggets costs around $3.00.

6

The famed bakery Key Lime Pie came back.

Costco bakery
Shutterstock

Costco loyalists were thrilled to learn that the bakery's beloved key lime pie returned to shelves in July. In typical Costco fashion, this summer treat is hugeweighing in at 4.25 pounds and costing $14.99. With each pie featuring 16 slices, you surely get bang for your buck.

Costco shoppers were excited to hear the news of key lime pies returning as @costcodeals' Instagram post about the return had more than 4,000 likes and received tons of comments like "I hope they keep it for a while, this time."

7

Cold and frozen items were added to two-day delivery service.

costco frozen foods
Shutterstock

Before May, only select items were available through Costco's two-day delivery service. Now, members can receive their favorite perishable items right at their doorstep. Eat This, Not That! previously reported that these items ship in insulated boxes, with dry ice or frozen gel packs.

If the order total is more than $100, the shipping is free. If you don't want to wait the two days, with additional fees, you can place an order through Instacart.

For more info about what's happening at the warehouse in your neighborhood right now, read these next:

Sarah Berman
Sarah is a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University and specializes in magazine writing. Read more about Sarah