COVID-19 prompted retailers everywhere to cease offering free samples. Thankfully, the epidemic days are behind and many rewards are returning.
This summer, consumers reported seeing food samples at Trader Joe's shops nationwide. A store in Coral Springs, Fla., declared their comeback for October 1,
while a consumer from Virginia stated their outlet was already throwing out free doughnuts. Granola and Halloween cookies were given free at select locations over the weekend.
Some of the finest in-store freebies are still gone and may not return—at least not nationally. Single-serve snacks and desserts will be available, but hot coffee won't be.
A Reddit member claiming to work at Trader Joe's forecasted the end of free coffee samples: "We're crew. I understand why coffee won't return. Abuse was rampant."
Food demonstrations will return to some Trader Joe's stores, but not universally. Trader Joe's declined to comment on the adjustments.
Trader Joe's has long advertised itself as more than a grocery shop due to its reasonable pricing and unique offers.
Free samples and live cooking demonstrations were part of that identity, which is endangered. Costco and Sam's Club sponsored free in-store tasting and cooking demonstrations before COVID-19.
Each company has reintroduced in-store sampling since 2020. Costco started handing away freebies again in 2021, but behind plexiglass walls.
In towns or jurisdictions with a mask law, Whole Foods exclusively distributes packed free samples. Open samples are supplied if there is no local mask requirement.