Costco customers have taken to social media to figure out what the cluck is going on with their favorite prepared poultry.
On Feb. 27, Reddit user u/MillennialModernMan posted a question on the r/Costco subreddit about an unfortunate trend they've noticed regarding the rotisserie chicken at Costco. In the post, titled “What’s up with the rotisserie chicken lately?,” the Redditor says the product tastes different than usual and wonders if anyone has answers.
“I was at Costco today and bought my rotisserie chicken just like every time I’m there,” they wrote. “We tasted it and it has a distinct chemical flavor to it, really off putting. Same thing happened last time, about 3 weeks ago. This was never a problem before, been buying it for years, has something changed recently?”
The original poster doesn’t state specifically where they got their Costco chicken from, though their other posts imply they live on the West Coast. Other users agreed with the original poster's assertion, taking to the comments section to share their experiences with the inflation-proof chicken.
“Thank you for posting this. I thought I was losing it/had Covid again when I tried a rotisserie chicken recently and it tasted…chemically and soapy? So odd,” replied one Redditor.
“Yes, I’ve noticed a distinct chlorine-like taste. I’ve stopped eating it, about a year(?) ago due to the strange chemical taste. I use the Albany, OR store,” wrote another Redditor.
“I’ve 100% have had the same thing happen,” another Redditor agreed. “The chicken has a chemical taste to it. Im guessing someone didn’t clean well enough after using the cleaning chemicals or something.”
Other Redditors offered another theory — that it might be about the type of chicken and the way it's cooled after slaughter to prevent bacteria growth.
“At the warehouse i work at, i don’t know about other warehouses, but we get chicken from two suppliers,” posited another Redditor, adding that they refer to it as “bad chicken.”
“Deli worker here. We get two different types of chickens,” commented another Redditor. “One is our in-house brand from our processing plant in Nebraska. The other is foster farms. The foster farm chickens are of lower quality and tend to cook differently than ours. Which is (due to) the fact that they’re water cooled while ours are air chilled. Our chickens are raised in Nebraska, while fosters are from California. If your chicken is gross, it’s most likely due to the fact that it’s a foster farm chicken.”
A representative for Costco declined to comment to TODAY.com.
This isn’t the first time customers have posted on Reddit to inquire about a difference in the way their rotisserie chickens were tasting. In May 2022, a Redditor from Vancouver, Canada complained that their chicken "tasted so chemically," wondering if other users felt the same way. Some users in California said they had the same experience.
In 2019, Costco opened a chicken facility in Nebraska that produces an astonishing 2 million chickens per week to be distributed to its stores. Still, that is only enough to fulfill 43% of its rotisserie supply — and 33% of its raw chicken supply, meaning that some customers' chickens are supplied in other ways.
A rotisserie chicken taste test
Anecdotally, I was curious if these Redditors were onto something, as a fan of the rotisserie chicken beloved by meal preppers around the country and famously hated by chef David Chang.
So, on my lunch break, I drove on over to my local Costco in the Washington, D.C. area to find out for myself.
After trying a couple of pieces of the Kirkland chicken I purchased, I can only describe what I tasted as … chicken.
I really didn’t taste any difference from Costco chickens I’ve had in the past, and I have had tons of the stuff at this point. Personally, I have always noticed a little bit of a bitter note to the overall rotisserie chicken taste of Costco’s chicken that I know and love, but one can most likely attribute that to the Maillard reaction in the charred skin and nothing else.
Which isn't to say that these Redditors aren't tasting something chemically in their chickens — I just didn't. But perhaps we got our chickens from different suppliers.