Thursday, August 6, 2009

Costco Pizza Field Trip

The other day my friend James took me on a pizza field trip to Costco. I have heard from several people that they have surprisingly good pizza, super cheap slices and HUGE, cheap take and bake pies.

After many scheduling conflicts and missed pizza opportunities I finally cleared my schedule and adjourned to the far west end of Richmond for a slice. I have to say, the rumors are true. Costco's pizza is indeed, surprisingly not as bad as I thought it would be. My Costco experience was one I will never forget.

First of all, I was shocked to see that Costco has actual traffic. Bad traffic. The parking lot is a cluster fuck of SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks and children running amuck while their exhausted mothers haul huge carts piled high with bulk items to their respective vehicles. Crossing through the parking lot at Costco was not unlike crossing the street in Times Square.

Next I have to say that just entering though the giant garage doors of Costco is a overwhelming. The place is absolutely gigantic. A concrete cube of pipes and scaffolding and lights and products. I once read somewhere that in the future archaeologist will dig up suburban remains and conclude that we worshiped capitalism and consumerism based on their findings of giant discount shopping centers and big box stores. Standing in the entrance of Costco on a hot day with the air conditioning blowing past me out the door and the signs for cheap gas and food court specials glowing over me, illuminated like stained glass windows, I didn't disagree.

We ventured ALL the way to the back of the store to find a case of San Pellegrino. On our way to the back I noticed that there seems to be only a very loose organization of products. Tires and auto parts are shelved with end caps that display orchids, first-aid supplies and frozen jumbo shrimp. Of course everything is super cheap and in very large quantities. You can't buy one of anything because everything is packed as an extra family-sized duo or jumbo-, or colossal-, or giganto- pack. It was total sensory overload and the urge to purchase was overwhelming. I had to pray on the teaching s of Reverend Billy just to make it out of there with out a 40-pack of toilet paper, 10 t-bone steaks and an orchid.

I remember going to Costco as a kid with my friend Erika and her dad and that they had free samples of lots of their products. They still have that only now the employees at the sample stands have been instructed to give a monologue about the products they are preparing for samples. However, this monologue doesn't seem to begin on any sort of cue. You walk up to the sample stand and they are already in the middle of a sentence "...can freeze the juice in an ice cube tray to make fun popsicles or smoothies just add a banana and fresh berries from the produce department and you will have a healthy sna..." Like robots these women just deliver this monologue on repeat. So 1984. So Gattaca. So 5th Element.

Anyways, we made our way to the check out line and then to the "food court" where we discovered a slew of similarly dressed, khaki and polo clad, young suburban professionals who had apparently been released from their cubical farm for a lunch hour. Many of them had caught up with their waiting, young, Stepford wives and pudgy children. And some representative of the company was buying hot dogs (in bulk) from the food court clerk and passing them out among the y(s)uppies and their families.

On to pizza! Costco has only three kinds of pizza: cheese, pepperoni and combo (supreme). You can purchase pizza by the slice or as a hot pie or as a take and bake pie. The whole pies are gigantic -- at least two feet in diameter. So, as you can imagine each slice (1/6 of the pie)  is also gigantic. I ordered a slice of plain cheese (the litmus test of pizza). The crust on my slice was about 12" long and there was probably about 7oz of cheese on each slice. I was actually surprised by the weight of the slice when the clerk handed me the paper plate. I also got a churro and a Coke. The total of my purchase was like $4. Nuts! James also got a slice of cheese and we ate at a little plastic picnic table next to the garage door entrance watching patrons have their receipts and carts checked by greeters and housewives wrangle their children out the door.

The pizza was surprising. The crust was really soft and the sauce was sweet. Even the excess of cheese was kind of yummy-- perhaps because excess is what I was craving after having walked through that place. It wasn't over or under seasoned, perfect for that bland suburban, white-bread palate. It was good in the way that even bad pizza is still pretty good, but it was on the high side of bad pizza.

Thank you James Menefee for this truly unique pizza experience! James and I have been pals for a long time, since I used to see his band Fun Size play when I was in high school. Since then James has gone on to play in River City High and is working on a new project called The Long Arms along with Alex Smith, Pedro Aida (Roslyn), and Greg Butler. Definitely check it out


Anonymous said...

You rule, James rules, Fun Size rules, and the pizza at Costco rules! Thanks for reminding me about it.

Sully said...


Pizzalicious said...

ewwwwwwwww sully. ewwwwww

Denise Thornton said...

Good pizza is totally worth the effort! Check out my new favorite at