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The Herald-Mail generic vs. name-brand taste test

August 13, 2008

The Herald-Mail shopped at six Hagerstown-area grocery stores -- Wal-Mart, Save-A-Lot, Martin's, Weis, Aldi Foods and Food Lion -- to determine whether name-brand foods were worth the money. The name-brand items cost $34.74 with tax, while their generic counterparts cost $23.09 -- a difference of $11.65 (although package sizes were not all identical).

But are the savings worth it? How do generic brands compare to name brands on taste? Compare the prices with our panel's opinions and decide for yourself.

Toaster pastries

  • Kellogg's Pop-Tarts,

    16 pastries: $2.92 at Wal-Mart, about 18 cents per pastry.

  • Strawberry Toaster Tarts, 12 pastries: $1.69 at Aldi Food, about

    14 cents per pastry.

    Winner: Kellogg's, 3-1

    Cereal

  • General Mills Honey Nut Cherrios, 25.25 ounces: $4.69 at Martin's, or about 19 cents per ounce.

  • Honey Nut Rollin' Oats,

    14 ounces: $1.89, at Save-A-Lot, or about 14 cents per ounce.

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Winner: tie

Fruit bars

  • Nutri-Grain cereal bars, 8 bars: $3.07 at Martin's, roughly 38 cents per bar.

  • Giant brand Fruit & Grain bars, 8 bars: $1.89 at Martins, roughly 24 cents per bar.

    Winner: tie

    Chips

  • Tostitos restaurant style, 13 ounces: $3.79 at Weis, roughly 29 cents per ounce.

  • Weis Canyon River, white corn tortilla chips, 12 ounces: $3.39 at Weis, roughly 28 cents per ounce.

    Winner: Tostitos, 3-1

    Salsa

  • All-natural Tostitos chunky salsa, medium, 15.5 ounces: $3.09 at Food Lion, about 20 cents per ounce.

  • All-natural Food Lion salsa, medium, 16 ounces: $2 at Food Lion, about 13 cents per ounce.

    Winner: Tostitos, 3-1

    Italian sausage

  • Johnsonville mild Italian sausage: $3.54 at Wal-Mart.

  • Great Value mild Italian sausage: $3.26 at Wal-Mart.

    Winner: Inconclusive. Someone ate all the sausages before one of the testers had a chance to try them.

    Soup

  • Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, 10.75 ounces: $0.89 at Martin's, roughly 8 cents per ounce.

  • Giant brand chicken noodle soup, 10.5 ounces: $0.75 at Martin's, roughly 7 cents per ounce.

    Winner: Campbell's, 3-1

    Orange Juice

  • Minute Maid orange juice, from concentrate. $2.88 at Wal-Mart.

  • Millville orange juice, from concentrate. $1.69 at Aldi Food.

    Winner: Minute Maid, 4-0

    Pop

  • Dr. Pepper, 2 liters: $1.39 at Food Lion, or roughly 70 cents per liter.

  • Dr. Perky, 2 liters: $0.79 at Food Lion, or roughly 40 cents per liter.

    Winner: tie

    Cookies

  • Chips Ahoy!, original; 15.25 ounces: $3.49 at Martin's, or roughly 23 cents per ounce.

  • Giant brand Chip'ums, original; 16 ounces, $2.75 at Martin's, or roughly 17 cents per ounce.

    Winner: tie

    Ice cream

  • Breyers ice cream. $4.99 at Weis.

  • Weis brand ice cream. $2.99 at Weis.

    Winner: tie

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