This has been an unsettling year for Costco members in Montana, and across the country, as the retail giant adjusts to maintain its bottom line and membership growth.

From the crackdown on "card sharing" to 750-calorie cookies selling for $2.49, It has been a whirlwind year for Costco news.

And through it all, the big questions have circulated whether the company will mess with its stalwart offerings, the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo, and the popular rotisserie chicken. That's been partly fueled by the leadership change, with long-time CEO Craig Jelinek stepping down this year.

RELATED: Montana Costcos cracking down on non-members in food courts

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Chicken changes ahead?

Costco typically doesn't make broad announcements about product changes. But circulating reports suggest the company's signature chicken could be heading for a big change. Not in taste or size, but in how we carry it home.

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

Eat This Not That, reported some Reddit users in the Seattle area, where Costco is based, had begun seeing the rotisserie chickens not in their familiar, and useful, plastic boxes, but in plastic bags.

That report was based on a purported "internal memo" posted and later taken down. But since this, additional outlets have picked up the story, including additional posts where people are complaining about the bags "leaking" and being "greasy." Others say there are advantages to birds in a bag. 

Dennis Bragg photo
Dennis Bragg photo

Are boxes better?

We've been buying the Costco chickens (one of my wife's favorites) since they debuted 30 years ago in Washington. And to say she's skeptical of the change is an understatement.

For one thing, the boxes have been the best way to store leftovers if you can't consume the entire bird.

But my biggest fear is what happens to our trucks and cars on our (often) rough Montana roads. We usually "bag" the box, just to be sure. And while we've never had a spill that I remember, the idea of just a bag is frightening, especially now that our vehicles cost nearly as much as a house and are often filled with "pointy stuff".

A tasty Costco chicken ready to eat
Dennis Bragg photo

It appears the bags are sturdy, and dedicated to the job. But still…

I wonder if you could save your last boxes and bring them back to be re-used? Hey, we're supposed to do that with shopping bags to save the planet. Why not re-box the birds to save our truck?

READ MORE: Five Montana Products You Can Find at Costco


-The rotisserie chickens have cost $4.99 since being introduced in '94, except when prices spiked during the 2008 recession

-Costco sold 51 million chickens in 2010. In 2022 it was 117 million.

-Costco owns its own chicken processing system to control costs and quality

-Costco places the chickens at the back of its warehouses, reportedly to increase shopper traffic through the store

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Gallery Credit: Jesse James