The store sells literally millions of these pies in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
Whether it's for deals on staples or meal kits that take the guesswork out of shopping, many people turn to their go-to grocery stores for help during the holidays. But, sometimes you just need dishes taken care of that are good enough to pass off as homemade. Millions of shoppers turn to Costco in the days leading up to Thanksgiving for everything from the bird itself to heat-and-eat sides, appetizers, ready-made dips, and more. But one item is sold in astounding numbers: that good ol' faithful, pumpkin pie.
According to David and Susan Schwartz, authors of the new book "The Joy of Costco: A Treasure Hunt From A to Z", Costco sells over 6 million pumpkin pies between September and December each year. Of those, more than a third—over 2 million pies—are sold just in the days leading up to Thanksgiving (check out this mind-blowing time-lapse).
In their research for the book, David and Susan did a deep dive into the Costco pumpkin pie. And while they couldn't divulge the full recipe, they did reveal a few secrets to what makes the pie so tasty, and how it stays so affordable. Plus, there's even one tip you can steal for your own Turkey Day desserts to make them taste pretty damn gourd.
What Makes Costco Pumpkin Pie So Good?
On the Thanksgiving table there are some non-negotiable dishes. For me, pumpkin pie, as divisive as it can be, is a must-have. Since pumpkin pie is such a simple dish with very few ingredients, each one of those ingredients matters. The most important one? The pumpkin itself.
According to David and Susan, Costco uses one kind of pumpkin exclusively: Dickinson pumpkins. Dickinson pumpkins are not the orange jack-o'-lantern canvas you're picturing; rather, they're beige with smooth sides. The heirloom breed of pumpkin is grown in Illinois and sold to Costco in canned form—the store goes through 1.2 million cans of said pumpkin in peak pie season.
While you're unlikely to find Dickinson pumpkins in their gourd form at your local markets, you can readily find the canned version, and under a recognizable label at that. That's because Dickinson pumpkin is the proprietary variety used in Libby's, the brand behind 95% of the world's canned pumpkin (likely including the one that Costco uses, though the store is famously cagey about revealing its suppliers).
Libby's exclusively relies on Dickinson pumpkins for their sweet, butternut squash-like flavor and tender, creamy texture. In taste tests, our staff praised Libby's for its "mild flavor, smooth texture, and carrot-orange color," calling Libby's the "standout winner" and our top pick for all your baking needs.
So, if we had to take a guess at Costco's pumpkin pie recipe, we'd venture to say it's probably quite similar to Libby's famous pumpkin pie recipe. Hot tip: if you're to believe one Costco employee who commented on social media, the store glazes the pies with a thin layer of apricot jelly to get a shiny top. However, while you can probably get your pumpkin pie to taste as good as Costco's we can't guarantee it'll cost as little as Costco's. Here's how Costco keeps their pumpkin pie priced at just $5.99 for a whopping 58-ounce pie.
How Costco Keeps Its Pumpkin Pie So Cheap
In their book, David and Susan disclose that Costco's pumpkin pies are only semi-homemade, which helps cut down on costs. Each pie's crust is pressed into the pie tin by hand at a Costco central bakery commissary, but a pie-filling device takes it from there. The pumpkin pie filling used to be ladled in by hand, but in 2017, Costco made the switch to a machine, which helped cut down the production time drastically.
According to David and Susan, it's those "efficiency improvements" as well as Costco's ability to buy ingredients in bulk (and we mean bulk) that help keep the cost low. The price of the pumpkin pie has not gone up since 1990 (when it was raised $1), despite rising costs. As a result, it's probably a loss leader for Costco, much like its famous food court hot dog.
But it's not just the price that keeps people coming back year after year. Many users on social media excitedly share the pie's return each season, showering it with compliments. You can watch video after video on platforms like TikTok of fans raving about the treat. There's even a fan account on X (formerly known as Twitter) dedicated to the pie. So, where do you fall on the dessert discourse? Will you be adding a pumpkin pie to your Costco cart this Thanksgiving? Know that if you do plan to, the competition for one will be fierce.
Read the original article on All Recipes.