Name brands vs. knockoffs: Putting food to the test

HOUSTON – It's no secret that buying generic or store brand products can save you a lot of money. But there's still a stereotype that generic versions are inferior. Consumer expert Amy Davis is testing the theory by pitting store brand foods against their big brand name rivals in blind tests to find out which ones consumers prefer.

Davis purchased 21 grocery products total. She took them out of their packages so the labels wouldn't influence the judges.

From cookies to crackers to soda, seven retired school teachers in El Campo took the challenge. They sipped, munched and crunched. They had no idea what brand of products they were eating, but like most of us, they already had their favorites.  

"Definitely Velveeta, and Blue Bell," said Laura Smith, ticking off her favorite brands. 

"We only buy Kellogg's," said Roxanne Smith. 

About half of the group raised their hands when asked how many of them purchase store brands or generic items regularly. 

Davis served 10 store brand items from Aldi, Kroger and HEB, along with their brand name counterparts. After each tester picked their favorite, she revealed what they were actually eating. 

Out of 10 tests, the tasters preferred the store brand in six of them.

H-E-B store brand products proved to be the most preferred. Testers unanimously picked H-E-B's Bake Shop Wheat Bread over Nature's Own Wheat Bread and H-E-B's Creamy Creation Butter Pecan over Blue Bell's Butter Pecan ice cream. 

"None of you preferred Blue Bell," Davis told the group who let out a collective gasp. 

"We're gonna have to turn in our Texas cards," said one tester. 

The six store brand items the group chose would save them $5.75 combined compared to buying the brand name versions of the products.

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.