The internet has a new daddy, and it’s Tom Musto, a 49-year-old single father in Los Angeles — aka Hot Costco Dad.
Musto is a newly christened devotee of Costco’s great prices on bulk food items. While venturing out to procure his weekly Sunday groceries, Musto tried out the members-only bulk warehouse for the first time and discovered deals beyond his wildest imagination. Upon returning to his family to show off his Costco haul, he marveled with pure, giddy glee at cases of water, big jars of marinara sauce, pistachios and a boatload of sausages he scored for just eight bucks. Son T.J. was there to take it all in and beam it out to us.
The internet swooned, not just because the content was so wholesome for once:
And not just because his enthusiasm for savings was contagious:
And not just because the internet found the newly single dad to be easy on the eyes:
So what’s the root of Hot Costco Dad’s appeal? I have a thought: Here was a man who wasn’t just happily doing the grocery shopping. He was also absolutely fucking stoked to save money for his family.
Most of the stories about husbands or fathers going to the grocery store detail their idiocy:
Or pranking them because they’re such idiots:
But Hot Costco Dad is not an idiot. He’s just super-jazzed on the Costco juice.
Mashable spoke to son T.J., who filled us in on the back story:
According to T.J., his dad’s friend Stephanie first brought him to the wholesale paradise. Musto throws big dinners to close the weekend, and usually buys ingredients at local supermarket chains.
“He called me when he was there and said, ‘T.J., have you ever heard of Costco?'” T.J. said through Twitter DMs. “I laughed and said, ‘Yes Dad everyone’s heard of Costco.'”
Here’s where I want to clarify a few things about Musto’s Hot Costco Dad appeal. Much has been made about the fact that we glorify and fetishize men being basic human beings doing basic human things women do all the time with little or no acknowledgement and, more often, criticism to boot.
A woman changes a diaper and is admonished because it’s disposable and not cloth; a man changes a diaper and is given a key to the city and heralded as Dad of the Year. Normally I balk at these things. I hate the idea that women allegedly get wet if a man simply unloads the dishwasher. It’s all premised on the notion that it’s so rare to see a man give a shit around the house. The bar for men really is that low.
But it is rare to see Happy Domestic Dads, at least in the public realm. Household products still play up this notion to a caricatured degree. We wrote about a preposterous Mr. Clean ad a couple years ago for this reason: It turned a bald genie in an off-duty gay sailor outfit into an average woman’s hottest fantasy because he sexily mopped a floor. The message is clear: If men want to get laid, they should pick up the nearest mop and get to squeegee-ing. This is not only reductive and gross, but it fundamentally misunderstands what’s really in the grocery bag here.
Yes, to some degree it’s novel to see men buying groceries. When talking to friends about Hot Costco Dad, we all realized we hadn’t really seen men in the grocery store growing up and that part of the appeal is, yes, that they’re doing this stuff now. One friend of mine, who long nursed crushes on Hot Grocery Store Dads, says, “You rarely see men out and about acting like people. It’s nice.”
But she elaborates that what’s even nicer is men demonstrating “basic competence without asking for a reward or acting like you’ve climbed a mountain.” Hot Costco Dad, as you can see from the video, doesn’t think anything he’s doing is novel or heroic; it’s clearly his normal. That’s the key to his hotness! The novel factor is his excitement at discovering the shiny new shopping option and the crazy deals. You know, like any person used to doing the grocery shopping on a budget would.
Men going grocery shopping in large numbers is relatively new in the grand scheme of modern human history, and they still tend to do comically rookie things like buying brand-name everything, or shopping only for that night without thinking ahead (and still congratulate themselves). A rookie shopping dad would’ve gone to Costco for sausages and come back with a new big-screen TV. Men who run to the grocery store when it isn’t normally their domain, my friend notes, come back and say things like, “Got a great deal on three cases of Smartwater, but no, I did not remember the bananas.”
Not Hot Costco Dad. He is obviously a regular, actual comparison shopper; this is evidenced by the fact that he’s excited by saving a few bucks on sausages, which couldn’t happen if he didn’t know they were usually more than $8. He’s hopped up about the pistachios, which are only $9 to the usual $12 at Von’s.
Hot Costco Dad isn’t just a dad doing the bare minimum. He is a regular member of the family doing a regular-family-member thing. He is doing it with pride and with ownership. Men may not hunt anymore to feed their families, but they can sure goddamn gather, and procuring goods as if it’s a normal important part of domestic life — and with some damn enthusiasm, no less! — is why it’s so appealing.
We have no idea if Hot Costco Dad was always this way. Maybe a woman, god bless her, broke this horse so that today he could so valiantly and frugally shop. But this notion of wanting to, not having to, is famously demonstrated in that Vince Vaughn–Jennifer Aniston movie The Break-Up, where she says she’s going to do the dishes and asks him to help, but he’s playing a video game, and he only begrudgingly agrees to help with it after she harangues him.
“Fine, I’ll help you do the damn dishes,” he says, tossing his video game controller aside. “Oh come on,” she says. “You know what? No, see that’s not what I want,” she says.
“But you just said that you want me to help you do the dishes!” he yells.
“I want you to want to do the dishes,” she exclaims.
He of course, doesn’t get it. But it’s precisely the reason it’s appealing when Hot Costco Dad is just excited to save a few bucks on sausages at a megastore. He wants to do the fucking shopping. And if he doesn’t, we sure as hell wouldn’t know it, because he’s too busy being excited about a couple bucks to even bother coming off like a sullen teenager when asked to do something necessary for the household. As far as we can tell, he doesn’t even have to be asked.
This is the point: Men lowered the bar forever by opting to live in hostile bacteria zones eating jalapeño poppers three times a day, feigning helplessness about basic household tasks like dusting or picking up floor trash. Women spend most of their young adult lives dating these men, who live in filthy, barren, bachelor apartments with one Scarface poster, one bath towel, a single flat-ass pillow, a sectional couch, and a refrigerator whose sole purpose appears to be housing one moldy lime year-round.
If that dude grows up to become a man who will procure goods for a family and genuinely cherish a home life with them, and actually care about whether that home is tidy and stocked with basic goods, especially a fridge full of fresh, edible, logical food that could be reasonably combined into actual meals, it’s sexy as hell. Caring is fucking sexy. It’s not the mopping, bruh. It’s not the grocery shopping. It’s the giving a shit. And everyone knows that when you actually give a shit all on your own, you doing necessary tasks with ownership without having to be cattle-prodded into it.
Yes, arguably, that is still a pretty low bar for men, much less anyone. But as more men engage in greater numbers than ever in basic human activities in and around the home with actual dedication, the bar gets higher. It’s no longer enough to begrudgingly do those dishes or pick up a few things from the store. Other men are out there running circles around you, cooking, cleaning and carving up deals on sweet grillable sausages for the weekend with moxie and verve. Hot Costco Dad has helped raised the bar for all of us, and there is no turning back.