Costco’s rotisserie chicken is a certified cult favorite. The precooked bird has retailed for $4.99 for years, a price point that makes it a loss leader for the members-only chain — the proposition being that customers will come for the chicken, but while they’re there, they’ll probably pick up something pricier, such as a toddler-size wheel of cheese or, heck, maybe even a casket.

So it’s understandable why any attempts to mess with this beloved item would prompt strong feelings. Such is the bond between Costco shoppers and their spit-browned dinner centerpiece. In May, the company announced that change was coming, not to the price, but the packaging, which would switch from a domed, hard-plastic clamshell-style case to a plastic bag.

Now, as the planned packaging shift is hitting most locations, people are registering their inevitable displeasure on social media, a.k.a. the world’s favorite customer-service counter. “Not a fan,” declared one Redditor, whose concerns included potential for leaks as well as being less convenient for at-home storage. “The corner split open,” another lamented. People have described more labor for Costco workers, claiming that it takes two people to fill the bags (one to hold it open).

A TikTok user who calls himself the “Costco Oracle” (he boasts of having correctly predicted that the chain would start requiring proof of membership to eat at the food court as well as the demise of the chain’s Polish hot dog), is among the loudest anti-bag voices online. In one video posted last month, he is shown bringing his own traditional plastic container and transferring the chicken from the bag into it, creating a mess at the chicken station and confusion at the register.

Another TikTok user pointed to the hole in the top of the bag that seems to be designed to release steam, saying that if the item rolls over “a certain way,” it will leak. Others have complained that the design is resulting in soggy birds.

The company detailed the benefits of the packaging switch in the June edition of its in-house Costco Connections magazine (yes, it’s a real thing, and Jessica Simpson was on the cover that month). Bags will save 17 million pounds of plastic every year, the company said. And another, less obvious plus: “The bag also takes less space to transport; one pallet of the new bags is equivalent to five pallets of the old packaging, so Costco can remove 1,000 of its freight trucks from the road each year,” it said. That, in turn, means a reduction of 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, Costco claimed.

The plastic bags seem to be cheaper, too: the online restaurant supplier WebstaurantStore offers 200 of the plastic containers for $89.99 and 250 rotisserie bags for $78.99.

And the thing about plastic bags is that they are already incredibly common in the rotisserie-chicken world. In The Post’s 2023 taste test of 11 grocery brands’ birds, at least seven of them arrived in bags similar to the one now adopted by Costco, rather than the hard plastic. Those included chickens from Whole Foods, Giant, Wegmans, Food Lion, Sprouts, Safeway and Walmart. (In our test, Costco’s rotisserie came in a sad seventh place, with one taster finding it “nondescript but solid” — although its hefty size and low price made it the biggest bargain of the flock.)

While some people are loudly lamenting the change, others are urging Costco fans to just be grateful the price is remaining steady. “If we can maintain the pricing and relative quality of the product and sacrifice the packaging I’ll take it,” one fan wrote on Reddit.

Might Costco change its course amid the backlash? That seems unlikely. But the self-proclaimed “Oracle” posted another video Sunday in which he shows a row of Costco chickens packaged in the former clamshell container. “The boxes are back,” he repeats three times. “Yay!”

Another Reddit user found the whole feathery spectacle amusing. “There is such controversy over these bags and I am having a BLAST observing the dialogue from both sides in this sub,” they wrote. “This is more entertaining than TV.”

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