While you’re grocery shopping after a long day of work, and you think about what’s for dinner, suddenly the smell of rotisserie chicken hits you. That whole cooked bird is cheaper than a raw one, and will save you a lot of cooking time. And they’re pretty tasty, too! Yeah, it might seem like the easy way out, but it saves you time and money, and you can’t produce the same dish at home without a rotisserie oven.
At Costco, the wholesale supermarket chain founded in 1983 with 785 locations in the United States, rotisserie chickens have been widely reported to be a “loss leader” at $4.99 each; they’re sold for less than they cost, but they are there to lure you into the store, so you can buy other goods (at a profit to the company) while you’re shopping. (Representatives at Costco declined to comment for this article.) At many other supermarkets selling cut-rate rotisserie birds, the same strategy has been in place for decades. A spokesperson for Kroger, a supermarket chain with nearly 3,000 stateside locations, says that their rotisserie chicken program began in the 1980s: “Hot rotisserie chickens are a prepared food mainstay for many households,” she added.
Even restaurant chefs have a soft spot for the supermarket entrée. King Phojanakong, chef-owner of Kuma Inn on New York City’s Lower East Side, remembers that rotisserie chicken was an imperative whenever his family shopped at Costco growing up. Now, he goes with his kids.
“I cook a pot of rice, there’s salad, and that’s dinner,” he says. “The next day, we make a fried rice, and everybody loves it.”
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