11 Costco Items That Have Changed Over The Years

Costco shoppers are a loyal bunch that closely monitor changes to its product lineup. Members of the warehouse club frequently take to social media sites such as Reddit (namely the wildly popular fan-run Costco subreddit) to talk about everything from the latest grocery introductions to ingredient changes, price adjustments, or taste differences in the products. Within these online communities, Costco subscribers have unraveled puzzles such as why their Costco butter doesn't work as well in recipes and why its food court chicken bake doesn't taste the same as it used to, among other unexpected changes to their grocery favorites.

No category at Costco is unaffected. While the warehouse club's $1.50 hot dog and drink combo deal famously remains unwavering, the rest of the food court isn't necessarily resistant to change. Nor is Costco's private label brand, Kirkland Signature, which has seen its fair share of changes through the years. As you'll see, Costco has changed several popular grocery items over the years. Keep scrolling to see if any of your favorites have been impacted.

1. French bread

While you'd think something as straightforward as bread would be immune to change, that's not always true. Case in point: Rewind to 2020, when a Costco customer noticed a difference in the French bread from Costco's bakery. They took to Reddit to declare that the loaf they bought was "terrible [...] not nearly as fluffy. It's flavorless. Doesn't freeze well at all. Becomes a cracker when put in toaster. I want my old bread back."

This post garnered the attention of a Costco bakery worker. In a lengthy post, they alleged that the bread used to be made from scratch, but the company ditched that process to make the process less labor-intensive and cut down on costs. "They now ship in frozen slabs of dough that we then defrost, shape, and let rise," they wrote. "It's garbage compared to the fresh bread." 

2. Kirkland salted sweet cream butter

Costco's butter supposedly changed sometime near the end of 2023, causing a stir among shoppers for messing up their recipes. In a popular Reddit post, published in November 2023, the original poster explained that they and their mom had been "loyalists" of the Kirkland butter that comes in a blue box. However, they encountered issues when using it in a pie crust recipe that had previously been successful. They found that the crust wouldn't roll out, and the texture was off; it turned out crumbly.

Their thread got the attention of other dissatisfied Kirkland butter users. While Costco hasn't officially commented on the change, someone declared that the difference is due to a change in the water content. "This happened to my crust last year and a few friends mentioned it this year," they wrote in response to the original poster. Another person elaborated, writing: "When I'm baking, I look for consistency in my ingredients more than brand. I use a particular flour (KAF) because it's consistent. When it comes to Costco's butter, like many products that wear the Costco brand, things may change behind the scenes (supplier and/or recipe) that will affect the consistency of the product."

3. Butter croissants

Costco's flaky butter croissants used to be round, but as of May 2020, they have a straighter shape. Many customers assumed that their change in appearance signified a downgrade in quality too, but that's not the case, according to a former bakery employee on Reddit.

In a post from February 2020, this person explained that they initially wrote off the change as "unnecessary." However, they explained that they later found out that the change to their shape actually signified an ingredient upgrade as well. They claim that the newer croissants are made with 100% butter in contrast to the previous iteration that leaned more on oil, supposedly making it a cheaper option than the current. Fellow croissant enthusiasts backed up the original poster's findings in the subreddit, acknowledging that the rounder ones had a more oily texture than the straight version.

4. Kirkland organic roasted seaweed snack

Kirkland Organic Roasted Seaweed snack comes with 10 salty sheets of seaweed per pack, with five servings per container. People love it as a savory standalone snack or to add more flavor to a salmon bowl, among other creative ways of eating them. So when a seaweed sleuth discovered that Kirkland had replaced its seaweed with that from another supplier (a brand named Kimnori) with significantly smaller portions, they were understandably disappointed. In February 2023, they posted a side-by-side photo of the old and new seaweed to Reddit — and it's clear from the picture that the brand-name version wasn't nearly as sizably portioned as the original. 

In fact, in 2022, there was a class action lawsuit alleging Costco Wholesale Corporation had failed to disclose that the seaweed snack may contain cadmium, a carcinogenic metal. The lawsuit has since been dismissed, though, and the seaweed in question is back on the shelves in select stores, with a Prop 65 warning that it contains ingredients that may cause cancer or reproductive harm.

5. Berry smoothie

Every now and then, Costco makes changes to its food court offerings, though it almost guarantees backlash from fans. One notable change was the attempt to swap the beloved berry smoothie for a mango version, a move that did not resonate with the customers. They posted to Reddit in October 2023, critiquing its taste and mustard yellow color and lamenting about how much they missed the berry version. One person wrote: "As a mango snob, the color alone is suspicious."

Costco answered shoppers' prayers that same month, adding the berry smoothie back to its food court menu and swapping it with the contentious mango version. But even now, people remain unconvinced by the taste of the newly revived berry smoothie. "That's not my berry smoothie, I miss the older one," wrote a disappointed customer. Nonetheless, some members are simply content to see it return in any form.

6. Food court pizza

Arguably the most popular item served in the Costco food court is its pizza, available a la carte by the slice or in a whole 18-inch pie for takeaway. Its popularity is such that Costco ranks among the largest pizza chains in the US, despite not being recognized as a traditional pizza establishment.

It remains a favorite, but it may be made differently these days. In February 2022, a pizza fan posted on Reddit: "Has anyone else noticed that Costco pizza has changed? The cheese was off in the fall, not melting and kind of chunky. We finally tried it again tonight and had high hopes because it looked like the old cheese but it was flavorless cheese."

A Costco employee replied: "The mozzarella/provolone blend now comes in very small cubes, it used to be your typical feather shred." They noted that while the new cheese is sourced from the same supplier as the original, there's a noticeable difference in the cheese's texture than before.

7. Chicken Bake

If you're a regular Costco shopper, you're likely acquainted with its chicken bake: A beloved food court specialty featuring a cheesy, doughy crust stuffed with chicken, bacon, onions, more cheese, and a touch of Caesar dressing. During the COVID-19 pandemic, to the disappointment of many, Costco temporarily removed the chicken bake from its menu, only to reintroduce it in September 2020. 

However, since its return, shoppers have noticed a decline in its quality. According to a Reddit user, they used to be made fresh in the food court, but "now they just come in frozen and are thawed out and baked." Consequently, customers have observed that the chicken bake is not just smaller and drier, but also more costly, with a price increase of $1 in July 2022. "The chicken bake experienced shrinkflation. I used to get them all the time but not anymore since they raised the price and it's a lot smaller."

A second person confirmed the controversial change, posting, "We used to roll them fresh every morning with pizza dough, chicken, Caesar, cheese, and bacon," they wrote. "Now they come in frozen in a 40-pack. Inside ingredients are cooked but not the same as the old in-house made one. The dough on the outside is not cooked." 

8. Frozen salmon

Buying fresh salmon can get expensive, so stocking up on a frozen version is a practical choice. Costco sells a 3-pound bag of farm-raised Atlantic salmon under its Kirkland brand, but it's reportedly changed in terms of quality over the years. In March 2015, an anonymous shopper took to Reddit after observing a notable change in the nutritional content, sharing their findings. The previous version offered 41 grams of protein per serving, 12 grams of fat, and 272 calories, whereas the newer version contains 35 grams of protein, 28 grams of fat, and 400 calories — a substantial alteration in nutritional value.

The most engaging comment among fans reads: "Different fish supplier with different information. Kirkland products are not consistent. They make annual contracts to fulfill their needs, so suppliers can change year to year." Multiple other shoppers echoed this, with one person noting: "Could be different suppliers, different farms, different feed types."

9. Kirkland organic strawberry spread

Costco shoppers are known for their attentiveness, especially when it comes to packaging changes. Thus, when the warehouse club made a tweak to its Kirkland Signature Organic Strawberry Spread — a fan-favorite for smearing on toast and crackers — observant customers quickly took notice. 

In May 2023, a Reddit post appeared titled, "Why Kirkland Signature Organic Strawberry Spread changed jars," accompanied by a side-by-side photo of the old and new jars. The original jar featured a statement on the back declaring "Product of the USA," while the updated jar indicated "Product of Canada," hinting at a possible switch in suppliers. Although the ingredients list remained unchanged, the caloric content on the new jar was adjusted from 35 to 40 calories per serving; not a major change, but curious enough that it caught shoppers' attention. Some speculate that Canada rounded to 40 calories, whereas the United States rounded to 35.

10. Just Bare lightly breaded chicken breast chunks

Just Bare lightly breaded chicken breast chunks are marketed as a slightly healthier version of traditional chicken nuggets. They're adored for their crispy (but not too crispy) breading. But last year, a member sounded the alarm that they didn't taste as delicious as they used to. "Is it just me, or has the breading on these changed?" they wrote on Reddit. "I'm cooking them exactly the same way (air fryer, 350 degrees, 12 minutes) but the new package tastes different. The coating seems dry and mealy compared to previous batches."

Multiple Redditors have replied to the original poster, noting that they, too, noticed a quality change in the product. "The breading seems thicker and chicken seems to be of a lower quality," someone wrote in response. "Chewy/woody, a little gray, etc. Shame, the bags before that were uniformly high quality chicken." Unlike other instances where consumers could pinpoint a potential reason for a change, in this case, the cause behind the altered taste remains a mystery, some vaguely speculating that it may be a batch or control issue during production.

11. Kirkland organic coconut water

Whether you love adding coconut water to your smoothie or simply keep it around to quench your thirst, buying a bulk-size pack from Costco is a smart way to stock up and save money — and that's exactly what many shoppers do. But when one shopper detected a shift in the usual flavor last year, they felt compelled to ask other members if they observed the same change. Naturally, they turned to Reddit for insights.

"New flavor for my favorite Coconut water?" they posted on Reddit in February 2023. "Anyone else noticing a change in the latest batch. I am not an expert but there is a distinct vanilla or something like it after taste. I am not entirely sure I like it or not."

In response, someone flagged that, according to the packaging, the source of the coconut water had changed to Vietnam, but the previous version was labeled as a product of the Philippines. This could change the flavor slightly because, as someone else put it in the subreddit: " Added flavors can help minimize variability between crops. If they're not adding any flavor to the product, then the source of coconut will make a big difference."