Sam's Club Now Sells Its Own Version of Costco's Beloved Sweet & Salty Treat
Costco shoppers often fawn over the decadent treats they discover while perusing the aisles at their local warehouse. But few items can match the lofty descriptors bestowed upon one special candy recently. I'm referring, of course, to Sanders Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels.
"Crazy good," "dangerously delicious," "addictive," and "the devil" are just some of the ways fans have described the sensational so-called "small batch wonders" on social media this year. Produced by Detroit's venerable 148-year-old confectioner Sanders Candy, the popular square-shaped, bite-sized, "slow kettle cooked" caramels are sold in goodly 36-ounce tubs at Costco warehouses for $10.99 each. (A two-pack costs $46.99 online.)
Meanwhile, over the past month or so, shoppers at America's other major warehouse club, Walmart-owned Sam's Club, have noticed a very similar item.
Advertised as "kettle-cooked caramels drenched in premium dark chocolate topped with crunchy sea salt," Member's Mark Soft Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels look nearly identical to the Sanders brand at Costco and come in very similar 36-ounce containers. The story on the label sounds really familiar, too: "made from a century-old family recipe" and cooked "slowly in small batches." And, not unlike certain other Sam's Club's items recently—looking at you, hot dog combo!—the candies are priced slightly less than the competing Costco item. Sam's salty caramels cost $10.58.
"These are amazing!" one reviewer wrote on Sam's Club's website last month after trying a free sample in the store. "I normally don't try anything while shopping, but I can't pass up anything caramel AND chocolate." Added another, "these are the best salted dark chocolate with the most buttery caramel centers ever—outstanding and better than any See's or other chocolatier products!"
It's not uncommon to see a store-brand version of a popular Costco product at Sam's. The rival retailer also puts out its own version of Costco's well-liked Kirkland Signature Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Nuggets, for instance. "The members mark ones are literally exactly the same," one shopper recently remarked on Reddit.
And it's probably not the first knock-off of Sanders' signature candies, either. "When we first introduced our original sea salt caramels, they sparked a major phenomenon in the chocolate category," Sanders CEO Brian Jefferson told Winsight Grocery Business back in 2016.
Like Costco, Sam's Club doesn't often divulge the identities of companies that supply its private-label products, and Sanders Candy did not respond to requests for comment. So, it's unclear if the competing candies are made by the same confectioner or different ones entirely.
Yet, as much as they look and taste alike—the resemblance in both flavor and texture is uncanny—there are some subtle differences between the separately branded candies. Sam's caramels include several ingredients not listed on the Sanders label, such as brown sugar and vanilla extract. And they also appear to be slightly larger. After weighing five randomly picked pieces of each candy on a digital scale, the Sam's variety averaged 7.8 ounces, compared to Sanders' 7.6 ounces.
One thing is certain: no matter which warehouse-club product you choose, it will cost a heckuva lot less than buying from Sanders directly. On its website, the Michigan-based manufacturer sells a slightly smaller 32-ounce tub of its original sea salt caramels for nearly twice the price: $21.99.