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Costco’s Take and Bake Pizza

November 28, 2011

Disclaimer: I like Costco. Despite not being overly fond of having to pay a business for the privilege of shopping at their stores, and even though I don’t have a need for gallon buckets of peanut butter and mayonnaise, or five gallon drums of laundry detergent and 10-pound sacks of rice, I like Costco.

Having said that…

I finally got around to buying a Costco’s Kirkland brand take and bake pizza. I’ve been a member of Costco since the early spring of 2008, and on one of my first visits to the store my eyes lit up when I first saw the enormous take and bake pizzas in their deli area. The cardboard boxed pie was a literal monster and I wanted to take it home and tackle it immediately. I didn’t.

I didn’t take one home because it was just too big and I’m not a big fan of food preservation or leftovers and even with my love of pizza, I didn’t feel like I could (read: should) eat the whole thing.

And the reality is that I would eat the whole thing because you know that little switch in your brain that counts and monitors the food that lands in your stomach and then when it’s time to stop calmly talks to you in that soothing voice and says, “Hey there, I’m full now, pal. It’s time to stop eating for a while.”? You know that voice, right? Well, that voice is sort of broken in me. It does work, but it’s inconsistent and when it finally does speak, it does so in a very soft voice that’s difficult to hear. So I decided years ago as I was folding another too-tight pair of jeans and putting them into that never-used dresser drawer down at the bottom that the voice just can’t be trusted.

For three years I’ve been eyeing those pizzas every time I walk past them wheeling my cart filled with 30 rolls of toilet paper and 16 mega rolls of paper towels. I know what you’re thinking, why walk by them at all? Why not simply take another path through the store and avoid them? I have no answer for you other than that other little voice, the one that helps us make rational decisions, you know the one, right? Like the Stop Eating voice, it’s also sort of broken on me.

So for three years I walk past those gigantic pizzas and I think: “Should I?”, “Dare I?”, “Can I?”, and every time I answer, “No”, and walk past them and leave them alone. I let three years of pizza – the most complete and delicious food in the universe, and now, if Congress is to be believed, and assuming the sauce contains 1/8th of a cup of tomato paste (apologies to all you, “No sauce on my pizza, please.” heretics, but you don’t get any nutritional credit here) a vegetable – pass me by with no contact beyond an aching look.

And then it happened. Blame it on allergies, the change of seasons, the return to standard time, no baseball for three more months or the unresolved stress over the JFK assassination, but something in my brain short circuited, and instead of walking past that pizza bin with a heavyhearted smile, I grabbed one of those mega-pizzas with both hands and hoisted the monster up and into my cart.

I felt a red-hot centipede of shame creep up the back of my neck with the thought that everyone in the store, from customers, to product demonstrators, to the cashiers I hadn’t even reached yet, knew that I had broken down and was finally going to bring a gargantuan take and bake monster pizza home with me, and worse, more than likely eat the entire thing.

I checked out without incident, careful to never make eye contact with the attractive cashier, and headed toward the exit. If you’re not familiar with Costco, they have staff at the exits to check your receipts against what you have in the cart in an effort to ensure you haven’t hidden something under your lifetime supply of pita chips and fruit cups that you didn’t pay for. I gave the receipt checker my receipt and he looked at the titanic cardboard box in the bottom of my cart and then at my receipt and then at me. Then to the pizza again and then back up to me. His look lingered a little too long on me and it didn’t take Kreskin to know what he was thinking, but I ignored his gaze, grabbed my receipt and made a beeline for my car. Walking through the parking lot I didn’t notice anyone else looking at me and my mega-pizza, but I did pick up some mumblings and I think one, maybe two, children started to cry.

Away from the watchful eyes of the Costco staff and customers I started to get excited. My heart was fluttering with the anticipation of spending the night alone with something near to being the world’s largest take and bake pizza. I noticed I was driving fast and I brought my speed down because I didn’t know how I’d ever explain a pizza that size perched on the seat next to me to a police officer should I get pulled over for speeding. It wasn’t until I was in the garage with the door closed and the motor turned off that I allowed myself to relax.

Inside, I didn’t bother to take off my jacket. I set the pizza down on the counter and opened the refrigerator door. Using my hip to keep the refrigerator door open, I grabbed onto the hefty pizza box with both hands and, twisting and bending with the dexterity of Daniel the Contortionist, I eventually managed to get the ponderous pie onto the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. The box just barely fit, and as I closed the door I couldn’t help but smile with the excited thought that it wouldn’t be long until I held a slice of that bulky beast in my hand.

The afternoon hours dragged and I suppressed my anticipation by making frequent checks into the refrigerator to check on the pizza.

Finally, it was time. 5:00 p.m. Time to heat up the oven. Dinner.

I waited until I heard that little click noise the oven makes when it’s heated to temperature. 425 degrees. I cleared off the counter and took the pizza out of the refrigerator. I managed to drool a prayer of thanks to the pizza powers that be as I broke the paper seal and opened up the box and looked down on the magnificence of the Costco take and bake pepperoni pizza. This was it. Three years of admiration and rationalization all boiled down to the time it takes to slide a pizza into the oven which is like what, 15 seconds? My faith at that point could have not only moved mountains, but blasted them to gravel, however all I was focused on was moving that pizza off the counter and onto the oven rack.

The oven barely held this Mona Lisa of pizzas. It was brushing up against the back wall and, I noticed, against the door when it was closed. Nevertheless, it was in there and it would bask for 10-15 interminable minutes until the oven would call out to me with a delicate “Ding” and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts for arrival in Pizza Heaven.”

What an absolutely horrible pizza. The pre-made crust was doughy and artificial tasting, and by artificial tasting I don’t mean artificial like food, but artificial like something out of a laboratory. It was crust that not only didn’t taste like crust, but it didn’t even taste like bread. Scraped free of toppings it looked better suited for attic insulation than food. The pie had thick globs of bland sauce and was covered with wall to wall pepperoni. That might be a good thing if you’re a big fan of pepperoni, but that over-abundance of pepperoni covered up the worst fault of the pizza which was that this was a pizza with no cheese. On top of the flavorless pepperoni was sprinkled a dusting of cheese and that was all. There was no cheese underneath the pepperoni. In contrast to how I top a homemade pizza (sauce – cheese – toppings), this pizza was coated with a thick layer of sauce, a wall-to-wall carpet covering of pepperoni and then a sprinkling of cheese. I ate one piece, and tossed it when I got to the outer crust ring and then I began cannibalizing the pizza by picking off the pepperoni and tossing it and then I scraped off the meager layer of cheese from three slices and stacked it onto one piece to try and make something that resembled a real pizza. My noble efforts at reconstructing this gummy, tasteless and offensive doughy disc into something both edible and that resembled a real pizza notwithstanding, even with the little bits of extra cheese I was able to scavenge, were a failure. Between the crust and the globby sauce, the thing was inedible. In the end, all but three pieces went into the trash along with my three-year-old dreams of Costco take and bake pizza and the ever elusive Pizza Heaven.

Kirkland pizza

Where’s The Cheese?

My final impression is that this fresh pizza was worse than the .99¢ Totino frozen pizzas you see at the grocery store. The ones that use synthetic “meat” toppings.

I’ve had the pizza Costco serves in their food court and it’s quite good. A nice thin crust, lots of cheese and adequately greasy. If you’ve had that food court pizza and want to enjoy it at home, my suggestion would be to buy a whole pizza at the food court and take it home and either reheat it or eat it cold. Avoid the take and bake pizzas in the deli area at all costs.





37 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2011 1:19 pm

    I can’t stand it when the anticipation is far better than the reality!

    Oh, I really liked the Pizza Song, “Mind your Manners” Love it!! I liked the Pizza Hut commercial too, I am such a sap!


  2. November 28, 2011 6:45 pm

    All this food is making me hungry 🙂

    Thanks for sharing in the fun today!


  3. November 28, 2011 7:20 pm

    NaBloPoMo is impairing your ability to act rationally. Too bad about that pizza. Man, I love a good pizza.


  4. November 28, 2011 7:44 pm

    Well, those are really unique. Never heard those before to say the least. Thanks for sharing. You sure know how to put a Post together don’t you? Guess I could take some lessons from you! Have a great night. I would follow you, but I cannot find your followers. Hope you have some time to stop by me too!


  5. November 28, 2011 9:48 pm

    Michael: Where did you get all these pizza pie songs! LOL Too funny! Thanks for playing along with us today! You made me smile that’s for sure! Thanks for sharing sweetie & have a wonderful day. Hope to see you next week too!


  6. November 29, 2011 7:48 pm

    hahaha! Love this post. I haven’t joined Costco yet (it’s only been here in Australia for a couple of years) but reading this post made me think “hmmm maybe I should join to try this amazing piece of pizza heaven myself”. Then I thought “No, my stomach doesn’t have an ‘off switch’ either”. Then…the anti climax of the terrible pizza! Very funny 🙂

    I’m getting a semi decent mixer for Xmas and hoping to make my own pizza dough.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      December 3, 2011 6:59 am

      Hi Jayne! Yeah, I guess I can’t even recommend that Costco take and bake pizza for experimental purposes. And if you also lack the off switch then it’s just a recipe for trouble! I never thought of making my own pizza dough. I’m not much of a cooker, but I do like the sound of homemade pizza dough.


  7. Anonymous permalink
    February 17, 2012 8:50 pm


    You obviously got a pizza that was not made properly. Every pepperoni pizza that i have purchased at Costco has a layer of cheese between the sauce and the pepperoni. The cheese on top is grated parmesan cheese. Check with them…


  8. Anonymous permalink
    March 10, 2012 3:58 am

    Your a fucking nut if you think Totino’s is better.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      March 10, 2012 6:18 am

      Well, I do like Almond Joy over Mounds. I’d rather eat cardboard than another Costco Take and Bake pizza.


  9. March 16, 2012 6:13 am

    A well-written and funny post! I just joined Costco. Haven’t bought much yet other than butter and meat.

    I think I’ll avoid the pizza. LOL


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      March 18, 2012 3:08 pm

      So you’ve yet to enjoy the joys of bulk shopping and coming home to an impulse purchase of 100 tubes of Ritz crackers! If you like sourdough bread one thing to check out is the Boudin sourdough bread they carry. It’s pretty good and it makes really good toast. One tip though – check the freshness tags on the loaves because they can vary greatly. If you try it let me know what you think.


      • November 5, 2012 5:56 pm

        Geez Michael, do you have a frickin’ freezer? You grossly over state the quantities necessary to buy. Buy one of those machines that vacuum packs food for the freezer. My savings every year are terrific and my rebate is always more than the membership cost.


        • Michael Fishman permalink
          November 27, 2012 6:43 am

          My freezer is small and about 30% filled with Popsicles and 30% with frozen pizza crusts. There isn’t much space left for Costco frozen stuff.


  10. April 5, 2012 12:02 pm

    Aiming carefully at a side issue here…wait, what? To leave Costco, you have to stand around while somebody Checks. Your. Entire. Receipt. Against. All. Your. Groceries?


    I really, really hate stores that assume all their customers are thieves. I’ve never shopped at Costco, and after learning about this charming policy, I doubt I ever will. And definitely not for ice cream!


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      April 5, 2012 3:13 pm

      I really dislike that as well. And what really bugs me about that is you can have a person with 1,000 items piled high in their cart and that receipt checker person will give the receipt a casual check and then look at the cart and let them go. But me, with my maybe 10 items, they have to inventory everything in my cart and reconcile it with the receipt. I don’t mind that they have security, but at least make it effective and realistic!


    • Roger permalink
      February 14, 2013 4:03 am

      The receipt checking is not to catch crooked customers but to catch crooked cashiers. In a store without checking a cashier could just fake scan items (it would be very hard to notice). When there is door checking it requires two crooked people to pull off the scam.


  11. Michael Fishman permalink
    June 23, 2012 7:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Michaelsfishbowl and commented:

    For some reason this has been a busy weekend so rather than strike out on day 23 of 30, here’s a reblog of an earlier post.


  12. Jim Bob permalink
    January 15, 2014 11:27 am

    Interesting finding that corroborates our findings: the food court pizza is good, but the take-home pizzas I’ve had were pretty bad, very cheap flavor, ok for kids but not for adults. I actually prefer Aldi’s mama cozy pizzas over the costco uncooked pizza.


  13. February 1, 2015 5:13 pm

    That pretty much covers all frozen pizza and refridgerator pizzas. They are awful! When I was in high school, occassionally a good friend and I would “skip” school, buy a frozen pizza and she would add extra things on top to make it actually somewhat tasteful. I don’t think that is even possible anymore.


    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      February 4, 2015 9:00 am

      There’s one frozen pizza that I think is good and better than a lot of restaurant pizzas and that’s Heggie’s Pizza. It’s a local company though and I don’t know if it’s available in other parts of the US.

      Liked by 1 person

      • February 4, 2015 9:11 am

        No, not available here. I would think they are probably delivered fresh. Maybe that would make the difference. (??)


        • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
          February 4, 2015 9:59 am

          They’re shipped frozen. I think for me it’s the crust they use. It’s really thin and then they have a lot of toppings. Now I want one! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  14. April 2, 2015 4:43 pm

    You are new to me via Blogging from A to Z. I subscribed because you are 1. a good writer and 2. you’re funny. I’m an awful critic so you must be so good.

    I received the confirming email that linked to the Costco Pizza post. Same exact (almost) thing happened in this household. But we bought 2. Costco has tasty food products, right? We spit it out, collectively from opposing corners of the room.

    What to do with the as yet frozen, out in the pole barn grossness? I finally brought it in and removed the terrible meat weirdness and replaced it with my sauce and better other ingredients. The crust, freed from the Costco toppings, was yummy.


    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      April 3, 2015 5:01 am

      Thank you, Maggie, for some of the nicest feedback I’ve ever received. It’s weird that the confirming email would link to that Costco post but that explains why that post has whole bunch of hits and everything else I’ve posted here has like six or seven. Maybe the WordPress people don’t like Costco pizza either? Every time I’m at Costco I see people buying those things and I really want to approach them and ask if they’ve ever actually eaten them before or if they’re just buying it because it’s enormous and cheap but I don’t have the nerve. Thanks again for your kind (and ego-building!) comment!


      • April 3, 2015 8:21 am

        You really are quite good so keep at it. And the pizza thing – Costco has a suggestion box. I think you could put it to good use!


        • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
          April 3, 2015 1:20 pm

          Dear Costco Pizza Department,

          How about putting some cheese on your pizza and finding a crust that can’t double for a kitchen floor mat.

          John Smith
          Your Loyal and Devoted Customer


  15. April 13, 2015 8:41 am

    Thank you for the blog follow.


  16. Jay permalink
    October 19, 2015 8:11 pm

    Well, after 3 years of waiting to buy a costco pepperoni pizza, you are an idiot.

    I am in no way affiliated with costco, but an executive member who shops there.

    You mention that the pizza they sell at their food kiosk is good…its the same pizza! Which means you don’t know how to cook. I mean turn on an oven?

    Try 15 min at 425 with the oven rack set in the middle. But first, cover the crust with the copious amounts of delicious premium pepperoni they provide. At the 15 min mark, turn the oven to broil and watch it for ~5min while the pepperoni turns into crispy pieces of meat candy.

    By far the best home cook pepperoni pizza…and for a fraction of the price of any other option.


    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      October 20, 2015 12:05 pm

      Thanks for the comment and the cooking suggestions, but I’ll pass and save my money for some real pizza. You can have my slice of that Costco stuff.


    • Michael B. Fishman permalink*
      October 24, 2015 11:56 am

      For the record, Jay: the pizza Costco sells at the food court is not the same pizza as their take and bake (and throw away) pizza.


  17. Jerani permalink
    August 12, 2016 4:06 pm

    That was so funny!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Todd G Johnson permalink
    October 15, 2016 4:26 pm

    Preach on brother! I just made and ate a Costco take and bake. And it was awful! It in no way is the same delicious pizza sold in the food court. The food court pizza is indulgent treat, the take and bake taste like Costco is mad at my taste buds.


  19. Ashley permalink
    March 14, 2017 6:00 pm

    What a drama queen!


  20. Heather Crossen permalink
    April 21, 2017 6:31 pm

    I LOVED reading your pizza story!….the whole style had me hooked reading it. Anyway, thanks for the info too, because I was heading out to but one tonight. Not any more!



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