Social media users made this claim in January and February 2024 and assumed the existence of such kits on Costco's store shelves must have meant that the company had some secret knowledge of a forthcoming "apocalypse." However, the truth was that Costco has offered emergency kits with food and supplies since at least 2008.
In late January and early February 2024, users on Facebook, TikTok, Truth Social and X all shared posts that said Costco Wholesale was selling buckets and boxes of emergency food supplies, with some users referring to them as "doomsday" kits. The gist of the apparent conspiracy theory behind many of the posts was that Costco had just started stocking the emergency products in their stores and on their website in January, and that this development meant the company had secret knowledge of upcoming, perhaps even apocalyptic, events.
However, this conspiracy theory was misleading and false.
The misguided hysteria regarding this matter began following the upload of a seemingly harmless TikTok video on Jan. 20, 2024, by the user @charminglyfrugal. In the video, she sought to update her followers regarding the offerings and prices of various emergency food kits available (archived) at Costco. In no part of the video did she say the company had only recently begun stocking such kits.
After the video was posted, one user commented next to worried-face emojis, "Emergency food? What's going on?" That comment received more than 14,000 likes. Other comments with thousands of likes also promoted the same rumor, such as, "Interesting. Emergency food supply… like they know what is next to come," and, "If they're selling emergency food packs, what do they know that we don't?"
In the days that followed, the rumor continued to gain ground with viral shares on other social media platforms.
For example, on Feb. 1, both @Fahad_Heaven (archived) and @GeoPolitics52 (archived) posted on X, "WHAT DOES COSTCO KNOW? NEW DOOMSDAY KITS APPEAR AT WAREHOUSE CHAIN." The posts included an upload of @charminglyfrugal's TikTok video.
Simonson's post appeared as a quote repost of a popular post from @MarioNawfal – a user with more than 1.2 million followers. @MarioNawfal's bio says his account offers "unfiltered, unbiased [and] verified 24x7 breaking news."
According to Google, @MarioNawfal's post, which has since been removed, contained the same words as the "WHAT DOES COSTCO KNOW?" posts created by @Fahad_Heaven and @GeoPolitics52. We reached out to @MarioNawfal to ask why his post was unavailable and will update this story if we receive further details.
It's likely @MarioNawfal's post was removed after many users replied to it to point out one thing that he and the other commenters on social media were missing: Costco has been selling emergency food kits for many years. Sam's Club has, too.
One repost (archived) of @MarioNawfal's post came from Luke Zaleski, a legal affairs editor for Conde Nast. Zaleski wrote, sarcastically, "It’s all a conspiracy. Everything. Everyone. All the time. The end."
Searches of Google and Facebook produced numerous results from past years for mentions of both Costco and emergency food kits.
In December 2010, another Facebook user posted (archived), "Is there an apocalypse coming up that I don't know about? Costco seems to think so." The post included a link to a product on Costco's website called "Chef's Banquet 1 Year Supply Food Storage."
Months earlier, in July 2010, Mountain House — a brand that says on its website that it "specializes in freeze-dried foods for all climates and adventures" — posted (archived) that its products were available at Costco. "Mountain House meals are perfect for your earthquake preparedness kit," the post read, adding, "You can also buy on Costco.com if you don’t live near the Bay Area."
The oldest online record that mentioned Costco and emergency food kits appeared to come from the Utah Preppers blog (archived). An article dated Nov. 25, 2008, featured a review of a Costco emergency supply "72-hour kit," which included food and other supplies.
Snopes reached out to a Costco via its corporate phone line to ask exactly how long the company has been selling emergency food kits. This story will be updated if the company responds.