Monday, November 9, 2009

Brand v. Generic Faceoff - Tailgate Edition

After reading this Wise Bread post a few weeks ago, I was inspired to do a DIY taste test. Knowing that I'd be hosting a football party to watch the Oregon Ducks take on the Stanford Cardinal seemed like the perfect opportunity to host a tailgate edition of generic v. brand taste test. Frugal Femme and I figured out what we'd test that were typical tailgate snacks and we came up with soda, potato chips, onion dip, tortilla chips, salsa and pretzels. After not being able to find generic potato chips and soda being declared a "flop", we were down to four items.

The ballots

We had our participants (i.e. willing friends) take a blind taste test and rate which item they thought tasted the best. We asked them to add their comments on why they prefered Food A to Food B. Here's what our research determined.

The Faceoffs:

1) Safeway Brand onion dip v. Lipton onion dip -in a blind taste test, the participants preferred the Safeway brand 2 to 1 compared to the Lipton brand. The Lipton brand was "too overpowering" for one participant, and another prefered the Safeway brand because it had a "nice, mild onion flavor".

2) O Organics (Safeway Brand) white corn tortilla chips v. Tostitos white corn tortilla chips - Tostitos won, but just barely (by 2 votes). Some people said they prefered the O Organics brand because there was "more crunch", but Tostitos eked out a victory.

3) O Organics (Safeway Brand) mild salsa v. Tostitos mild salsa - the O Organics won by a hair (two votes). One voter said about the O Organics brand "you can tasted the individual ingredients" while saying about the Tostitos brand "tasted like processed tomatoes".

Eric enjoying the taste test!

4) Safeway Brand pretzels v. Snyders pretzels - our testers were tied on this one. We even had a self-described pretzel expert in our group and she could not tell the difference between the generic and store brand!

So what's the point? Well, besides having a fun taste test, knowing that overall generic brands taste just as good if not better in most cases could save you a lot of money when you're shopping for party food, or just your grocery budget in general. Clearly, we know that some things are worth the splurge for a brand (soda!), but you're not missing much else.

What about you? Are you buying brands because you think they taste better? Do you always buy generic to save some money? Are there some products you refuse to buy generic?

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