eater.com – It’s hard to believe, but before 1994, grocery stores did not sell packaged rotisserie chickens. Boston Market is credited with convincing consumers to pay for one of the easiest meals to make at home, in the early 1990s, and that’s when grocery stores saw an opening, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. Last year, Americans bought 625 million rotisserie chickens at supermarkets; Costco alone sold 87 million, according to the Journal, 36 million more than they did in 2010.
Today, practically every major publication, from Bon Appetit to Buzzfeed, has published a list of ways to most efficiently transform a grocery store-roasted chicken into several meals. The pre-roasted birds, packaged in plastic or paper and sitting beneath heat lamps at national chains like Kroger and Costco, might be flavored with garlic and lemon or barbecue spices. In addition to the convenience, the smell is a draw, as the Journal points out. It’s enough to get people into the store in the first place, at which point they’ll likely buy other items, making them a loss leader, in industry parlance.
“If they get a chicken, a salad, and maybe they pick up a bottle of wine — now we’re really talking,” Don Fitzgerald, vice president of merchandising at Mariano’s, a grocery chain in Chicago told the Journal.
In other words, as Pricenomics and the WSJ note, rotisserie chickens are no longer (only) a way for stores to sell fresh chicken that might otherwise spoil on the shelf. They’re big business at a time when supermarkets are struggling to attract clientele, and resorting to more creative waysof doing business.
Well salute to you Costco for serving up a quick chicken dinner for the low low.