Costco’s widely popular free food samples are back in certain stores but customers won’t be able to help themselves anymore

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Costco samples are back. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
  • Costco is now offering its free food samples in 30 stores across 16 states in the US after pulling these from stores in March for hygiene reasons.
  • Costco’s CFO said the chain plans to gradually bring samples back to more locations.
  • For safety, samples will be kept behind plexiglass screens and served to customers by workers in masks and gloves.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Costco’s iconic free food samples are back and being served in at least 30 of its stores across 16 states in the US after being pulled from stores in March for hygiene reasons.

According to Bloomberg, which was first to report the news, samples will now be prepackaged and kept behind plexiglass shields. Customers will not be able to help themselves to these tasty treats but rather wait to have one handed to them by a server wearing masks and gloves.

“We are seeing what works,” Costco’s CFO Richard Galanti told Bloomberg. “There are plans to continue to roll it out. We will see.”

Galanti previously said that samples would be coming back this month in an earnings call at the start of June and that this would happen on a “slow rollout basis.”

“I can’t tell you any more, but it’s – needless to say – not going to be where you go and just pick up an open sample with your fingers,” he said.

Costco’s free food samples are an iconic part of its shopping experience and a key reason why its megafans stay so loyal to the chain. The company decided to cut this service in March after concerns around the spread of coronavirus intensified.

Many of its sample workers are employed by Club Demonstration Services, a third-party product demonstration company hired by Costco to handle its samples across several different countries. A Costco representative previously told Business Insider’s Shoshy Ciment that around 30,000 CDS employees were employed at Costco stores around the world, the majority of which were in the US.

Initially, Costco paid CDS to keep on many of these workers to help out in other areas of the store. But in April, CDS said it would “temporarily cease” operations and many of these workers were laid off.

A spokesperson for CDS and Costco did not immediately respond to comment when contacted by Business Insider.

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