With the long Independence Day weekend upon us, many of you will be heading to your neighborhood Costco to stock up on party essentials. On your way in and out of the store, chances are you’ll be tempted by the smell of pizza and hot dogs wafting in the air fronting Costco’s always busy Food Court.
Obviously the entire menu here isn’t going to get an endorsement from my doctor or dentist anytime soon. Yet determined to eat more healthy, without having done any research beforehand, I recently ordered their “healthier sounding” Chicken Caesar Salad over the decadently tempting and delicious, seemingly counterintuitively thrifty-priced giant-sized hot dog, hoping I made a nutritionally wiser choice. Only to discover upon looking it up online the other night that this jacked-up salad has more calories, total fat, cholesterol and sodium than either the Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog or Polish Sausage. Go figure (or there goes my figure). In fact, that’s what we’re going to do here today.
That salad sure looks healthy with the contrasting colors and the notion itself of having fresh lettuce, tomatoes and skinless chicken as its main feature. Yet of course I should have known that generous portion of Caesar salad dressing, grated Parmesan Cheese and croutons would demonize it, practically negating any health benefits.
So this begs to question: should I eat that? Or eat this?…
Well, let’s take a close look at Costco Food Court’s nutritional data on these two menu items and find out where each one really stands.
|Costco Food Court Nutrional Data|
(% daily value)
|Chicken Caesar Salad (with dressing)||All Beef Hot Dog (includes bun, ketchup, mustard,|
relish, onion and kraut)
|Service size||20.5 oz.||8.3 oz.|
|Calories||670 kcal||570 kcal|
|Calories from fat||360 grams||300 kcal|
|Total fat||40 grams (62%)||33 grams (51%)|
|Saturated fat||9 grams (43%)||12 grams (62%)|
|Trans fat||1 gram||2 grams|
|Polyunsaturated Fat||18 grams||1.5 grams|
|Monounsaturated Fat||13 grams||17 grams|
|Cholesterol||135 grams (44%)||80 grams (26%)|
|Sodium||2680 milligrams (112%)||1750 (73%)|
|Total carbohydrate||35 grams (12%)||46 grams (15%)|
|Dietary fiber||7 grams (27%)||2 grams (6%)|
|Sugars||9 grams||9 grams|
|Protien||48 grams||24 grams|
Comparing the numbers side-by-side, the Chicken Caesar Salad has more of just about everything. Yet looking specifically at the serving size, the salad is also more than twice the amount of food in weight, tipping the scale over a pound at 20. 5 oz., versus the already giant-sized Costco Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog, which weighs in at 8.3 ounces, or just a squirt of mustard and ketchup more than a half-pound. So we need to keep that in mind when comparing the two.
That in mind, ounce-for-ounce, actually the hot dog packs much more of just about everything, except, not surprisingly, all the healthy stuff, including dietary fiber, vitamin A, C and calcium, where the salad clearly has it beat.
While the hot dog has more of the bad trans fat and saturated fat per ounce than the salad, on the good side, it also has a significant amount of monounsaturated fat — the “good fat” — than the Chicken Caesar Salad. It’s still behind on the good fat per ounce, yet it must be commended for that. Had the dressing for the salad been made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, it probably would have beaten the hot dog. But it’s not, and the dressing, along with the generous helping of grated parmesan cheese and croutons are certainly the culprit in all the “bad” figures making up the salad’s nutritional profile.
At least on paper, from a nutritional standpoint, for the most part, Costco’s giant-sized All-Beef Hot Dog ain’t all that bad in comparison to the Chicken Caesar Salad with all the fixinz, and is actually better for you, especially if less sodium and more monounsaturated fat are what’s best for your body’s needs. The hot dog’s expected high amount of saturated and trans fat, thanks to the very fact that it’s MEAT is really the “only” thing that hurts it. Emphasize “only”.
As for the salad, substitute the OEM Caesar dressing for an Extra Virgin Olive Oil-based vinaigrette dressing and take out some of the parmesan cheese and croutons, and it obviously will be far better for you than the hot dog. But who’s going to do that at the convenience of Costco’s Food court? Not me, that’s for sure.
So to answer the question of whether one should “Eat this, and not that”, between Costco’s Hot Dog with all the fixinz or the Chicken Caesar Salad with all the fixinz, it’ sounds like a toss-up from a nutritional standpoint. From an immediate financial standpoint, it’s tough to beat Costco’s $1.50 giant hot dog and 20 oz. drink deal. Compensate the nutritional deficiency of fiber and vitamins it lacks in comparison to the salad by getting a big bag of apples and oranges from their produce department and you should be good. Especially considering the higher $3.99 price for the Chicken Caesar Salad, where you can put that $2.49 savings in price difference compared to the hot dog towards those fresh fruits that will last you more than a week out.
So the question of whether one should “Eat this, and not that” from Costco’s Food Court is essentially asking which is the lesser of two evils, where I’d say the right answer would be “none of the above”.
Actually, to be honest, the only point I’m making here is to justify to myself, if not anyone else, that ordering a Costco Food Court Hot Dog isn’t far worse and in some ways better from a health standpoint than their Chicken Caesar Salad. Especially if I were to eat the whole salad, dressing and all. So at least I’ll feel that much less guilty from now on when choosing a hot dog over a salad, knowing I’ll be consuming that much less fat, sodium and cholesterol. All while having some spare change to buy a bag of apples in the warehouse club store to make up for the vitamins and fiber deficiency of the hot dog. And that’s my One Dollar and Fifty Cents, bang-for-the-buck take on that.
P.S. Since we’re on a “Eat this, not that” kick, and while I was at it doing “research” for this write-up, I bought both Costco’s Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog and Polish Sausage to compare in a handy-dandy side-by-side comparo’. Normally I order the Polish Sausage, but you know what? I think I’m changing my mind on that, as you’ll soon read.
Here we have Costco’s Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog, before being loaded with all the fixinz…
And here we have Costco’s Kirkland Signature Polish Sausage, before getting loaded up…
Notice the slightly darker color, speckles of seasoning and thinner profile of the Polish sausage compared to the all beef hot dog.
Now when it comes to food, in general I’m a “the works” kinda’ guy, and add every available topping I can get. Subway? Give me all the veggies, all the cheeses, all the seasonings and all the sauces they’ve got. Baked potato? Nothing less than “fully loaded”. Cream cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, chives and heck, even melted cheese if they’ve got it.
Same for hot dogs. I say drag that sucker through the garden and throw in the kitchen sink too, if that’s possible. Even ketchup. Yup, I said it, ketchup. With that, when dressing my Costco dog, it’s all or nothing for me…
Ketchup, mustard, relish and fresh diced onions? All CHECK. For some reason, the Iwilei Costco didn’t have ‘Kraut on this visit. Yet I’m cool with “just” the onions.
Same toppings treatment for the Polish Sausage dog…
What I really appreciate is that Costco’s hot dog buns have sesame seeds on them. Love that.
Also notice the dog protrudes about an inch total beyond the bun. Certainly a welcome site for meat lovers.
Speaking of measurements, let’s check the specific total length of this wiener…
Both wieners measure in at 8″ each, and get your mind out the gutter, thank you very much. lol
I forgot to measure the diameter of each one, yet I did get this cross-section shot of them side-by-side, which gives you an idea…
Here we have the two halves of the All Beef Hot Dog cut apart to the left, and the Polish Sausage Dog cut apart to the right. IIRC, the all beef hot dog was about 1″ in diameter, while the Polish Sausage was approximately 7/8″. Here you can also see the grains of spices mixed into the Polish sausage on the right, as well as the slightly darker color.
Now for the most important part, the taste comparison. The Polish Sausage is just slightly saltier, while also being somewhat noticeably spicier. It’s also more salami-like in flavor profile. While the all beef hot dog is very, well, BEEFY! Best part is, the all beef hot dog doesn’t taste as processed as the Polish sausage, but more “pure” if you will. The Kirkland Signature All Beef Hot Dog, at least for me, tastes exactly like what I envision on my palate to taste like a great-tasting all American Hot Dog. Simple as that. As much as a Chevy Camaro, Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger is an all-American muscle car through and through, Costco’s all beef wiener in a bun is an all-American hot dog through and through.
The verdict? Costco’s Signature All Beef Hot Dog wins it. Yet, I won’t turn down my former favorite, the Polish Sausage dog any time soon. They both taste delicious in their own way.
Oh, and I’m giving this post 5 SPAM Musubi because A) There’s no better deal in town than Costco’s most excellent and giant sized $1.50 Hot Dog and Drink, and B) I Love Costco!