Steppin’ Out – Sam’s Club vs Costco: The Ultimate Hot Dog Battle

My friend, Russ Salazar, emailed me a couple of weeks ago with an idea. “We should go to both Costco and Sam’s Club in Folsom and compare their quarter pound hot dogs and Polish sausage,” he wrote.

Well, we have done silly things before, so why change at our age.

Now, I am a great fan of Costco’s Polish sausage and drink combo at $1.50. I used to go to the Costco in San Diego with my brother in the 1980s just to get one, and have continued doing that now and then when my daughter when I visit a Sacramento area Costco. But only once before have I eaten in the food court at Sam’s Club.

Russ and I started with Sam’s Club. We ordered both the hot dog and Polish sausage combos and cut them in two. The store wouldn’t do it for us, but told us to use one of the plastic knives (sure…that never works). Fortunately, Russ carries a pocket knife.

Just to make sure I didn’t mix the two up, I put a small drop of catsup on my regular hot dog half. See, I’m thorough.

I put only mustard on each of them to begin with, then Russ handed me a package of Frank’s Kraut that they have in with the condiments. I added some to both. It was a bit bland.

Both the hot dog and that Polish are Nathan’s Famous and they were very solid, had great flavor and not overly salty. The buns were really fresh, extremely good and slightly yellow in color. From the light, warm texture, I think they were steamed.

Russ thought the yellow color might be from egg, but I recall that a bit of corn or potato flour added to the mix could do that. It didn’t matter, they were really good.

Already exceeding our fat, salt and caloric limits for the day (or maybe two days), we drove over to Costco to do the very same thing again.

After purchasing the hot dog and the Polish and cutting them in two, I dressed mine the same way, with mustard only.

They didn’t have sauerkraut on the condiment table, so Russ asked for some. After a few minutes they handed him one small container of sauerkraut, with the comment that it was the only one they had.

I added a bit of it to each and found it was much tastier than the packaged sauerkraut at Sam’s Club. It was also a bit moister, which could be the reason. I think the packaged sauerkraut is intentionally dry so your hot dog doesn’t get too wet and fall apart.


Here are the results:

By just a little bit, I liked the flavor of the Costco hot dog better than the one at Sam’s Club. The Polish dog was a toss-up. Both were solid, tasted good and were not too salty. Russ liked the Costco hot dog and Polish better, however, he put onions and deli mustard on the ones at Costco and we didn’t find either of those at Sam’s Club.

The buns were not quite as fresh as the ones at Sam’s Club and very white. Russ liked them better because he said the Sam’s buns stuck to his teeth. I preferred Sam’s by far.

Okay, here comes the comparison:

Cost: each combo (drink and hot dog or Polish) was $1.50 at both places.

Source of product: Both hot dog and Polish made are Nathan’s at Sam’s Club. Up until 2009 Costco used Hebrew National for both. Now their hot dogs and Polish sausages are custom made for them under the Kirkland brand. They are slightly larger than a quarter pound and they brag that their hot dogs were developed with no fillers, binders, phosphates, corn syrup, artificial colors or flavors. I have to take their word for it.

Nutrition (including bun): Sam’s Club hot dog – 510 calories, 30 grams of fat, 14 grams of protein and a half day’s supply of salt (all of them have that). Sam’s Club Polish sausage – 500 calories, 31 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein. Costco hot dog 552 calories, 32 grams of fat, 20 grams of protein. Costco Polish sausage – 570 calories, 34 grams of fat, 22 grams of protein. Source:

Drink: 32 oz. Styrofoam cup at Sam’s, 20 oz. paper cup at Costco. Free refills at both, although it doesn’t say so at Sam’s. Sam’s straws wrapped, Costco straws unwrapped in dispenser.

Drink selections: both Coke and Pepsi products in the fountains at Sam’s. Only Pepsi products at Costco (they switched from Coke in April of 2013), however, there is a nearby Coke machine were you can buy Coke by the bottle.

Other foods available: Both have five other things in common, beside the hot dog and Polish sausage: pizza by the slice or pie, frozen yogurt, berry sundaes, churros and chicken Caesar salads.

Costco has four items that aren’t on the Sam’s Club menu: Chicken Bake, Hot Turkey Provolone Sandwich, 1/3 lb. Cheeseburger (apparently they dropped the BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich for it) and Fruit Smoothie.

Sam’s Club has four not on the Costco menu: Family Pizza Combo, Pretzels, Yogurt Parfait and Icees.

From my research, the menu at both of these membership clubs varies by area and is subject to change. But, they will always have the hot dog and Polish sausage, hopefully for $1.50.

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