I ate everything at Costco’s food court, and there was one item I’d absolutely never order again

I ate every menu item at Costco's food court, and the açai bowl is the one item I'd never order again.

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I ate every menu item at Costco’s food court, and the açai bowl is the one item I’d never order again.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

There’s nothing worse than an unhealthy food masquerading as a healthy one.

The açai berry is a traditional part of many Amazonian diets. Native to South America, it found itself swept up north by a superfoods craze in the late 2000s. Companies marketed açai as having near-miracle health benefits and antioxidant levels, claims that are unsubstantiated by scientific evidence.

So why, in 2018, did Costco add an açai bowl and an açai swirl to its food court menu? It was presumably part of an effort to replace “unhealthy” items with “healthier” ones. Away went the hand-dipped ice cream bar, the chocolate fro-yo swirl, the BBQ brisket sandwich, and the Polish sausage. In came a vegan al pastor salad and açai-based desserts.

But is the açai bowl really healthy? It has 30 grams of sugar, which equals over seven teaspoons. For reference, the American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than nine teaspoons of sugar a day and that women consume no more than six.

Costco food court acai bowl

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

And at $4.99, it’s the most expensive item on the menu, tied with the al pastor salad.

In my opinion, it’s also the worst.

The concept of Costco’s açai bowl is appealing. A nutritious, fruity dessert base is topped with fresh fruit, granola, and banana chips. However, we’ve already established that the fruity dessert base of Costco’s açai bowl is less than nutritious.

Read more: I ate everything at the Costco and Ikea food courts, and there’s one big reason why you should go to one over the other

Independently, the toppings in the açai bowl are great.

The fruit is fresh, the banana chips are crunchy, and the granola is hearty. The problem is the açai.

Costco food court acai bowl

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Costco’s açai tastes artificial. Yes, it does taste kind of like berries, but it mostly tastes like powder and sugar.

This artificial açai frozen dessert taints every other ingredient in the bowl. You want to enjoy your fresh strawberries? Here’s an overpoweringly sweet, cold, and chemical-tasting dollop of açai dessert to distract you. Crunchy banana chips and granola? Have some icy açai sorbet to make sure your teeth suffer with every bite.

If Costco had added the toppings for the açai bowl to an oatmeal bowl or yogurt parfait, it would’ve had a smashing success on its hands – and a nutritious one at that.

Instead, Costco chose to jump on the categorically useless superfood bandwagon.

Costco food court acai bowl

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Sure, Costco’s dead favorites were calorific and contained oodles of fat and salt, but at least they were open about being bad for you. The açai bowl is no more healthy than its predecessors, yet it preaches the false virtues of antioxidants from its icy pedestal.

The açai bowl is everything that’s wrong with the direction Costco’s food court is heading in. Costco should stick to the kind of food that people love it for: affordable, unpretentious, and tasty.