Have you ever wondered why Rotisserie chickens are so cheap? They actually cost less than a chicken that you could buy to fix yourself
A couple of years ago, I got it into my head that I wanted to roast a whole chicken, just because. I wandered around my local Ralphs for a few minutes looking for poultry that hadn’t already been turned into individually shrink-wrapped meat units before asking for help. The gentleman I flagged down blinked a few times at my question. “Um,” he answered finally. “You know we have chickens for sale up at the front of the store that have already been cooked, right?”
I bought the raw chicken anyway. I took it home, rubbed it in butter and herbs, shoved a lemon half up its butt, and roasted it low and slow for the majority of the day. It turned out okay. For all the work it took, it certainly wasn’t notably better than a store-bought rotisserie chicken, and with the other ingredients factored in, it cost significantly more. Right now, an uncooked chicken at Ralphs runs you $9.87, but a rotisserie chicken is $6.99; at Gelson’s, you’ll pay $8.99 for a cooked chicken or $12.67 for the raw version; and at that beloved emporium of insanity Whole Foods, a rotisserie chicken is $8.99, while a whole chicken from the butcher counter is $12.79 … per pound. . . .
Even Whole Foods’ notoriously inflated prices don’t offset that level of production. Instead, much like hunters who strive to use every part of the animal, grocery stores attempt to sell every modicum of fresh food they stock. Produce past its prime is chopped up for the salad bar; meat that’s overdue for sale is cooked up and sold hot. Some mega-grocers like Costco have dedicated rotisserie chicken programs, but employees report that standard supermarkets routinely pop unsold chickens from the butcher into the ol’ rotisserie oven. . . .