Personal finance blogger Len Penzo brought together a panel of very opinionated people—11 members of his family—to compare national brands of cookies, kielbasa, tortilla chips, and other foods with the equivalent products sold under the store brand of his local Albertsons supermarket. The blind taste-testers included Aunt Doris (how can you not trust Aunt Doris?) and Major, the family dog.
A recent Consumer Reports blind taste test revealed that, by and large, national brands don’t taste better than store brands—and because store brands are almost always cheaper, by purchasing them you can save money without sacrificing taste.
But Penzo, known for putting together painstakingly detailed posts on topics such as how rechargeable batteries, in fact, rarely save you money, had to find out for himself. His family’s blind taste-test experiment, which includes a bio for each panel member (fyi, Aunt Doris was born in London and enjoys knitting) and a graph detailing who voted for which product, has somewhat mixed results. Albertsons’ kielbasa and canned peas were clearly favored over national brands, but the votes were pretty much even when it came to salsa and Oreo (or Oreo-type) cookies, and Sargento cheese and Tostitos chips came out on top of the store brand equivalent.
The main point is that you should never assume a national brand tastes better than the store brand, or that a more expensive brand tastes better than a brand on sale. Do you own taste test, decide for yourself, and trim your grocery bill when you can.