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Looking back at a year of Taster's Choice rankings

By Kathy Saunders

Times Correspondent

readers often ask for a list of the "winners" in our weekly Taster's Choice food tastings. In June we publish a list of what we've tasted so far in the year, and every January we look back at the entire year.

You can see from the following list that we ranged far and wide in the grocery store aisles last year. And while we liked much of what we sampled in 2010, only two products garnered at least 90 points, earning a spot in the Taster's Choice Hall of Fame: Lawry's powdered brown gravy mix and Alexia frozen artisan rolls. (Smart Option Vanilla Creme Sandwich cookies came close with 89.)

We generally shop at Publix, Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Target and, occasionally, at Sam's Club or health food stores, depending on the item. We try to taste foods that we think families are buying. We also look to see what foods are taking up space on grocery store shelves, figuring if more manufacturers are offering the products, the foods must be in demand. In the past couple of years, we have revisited some of the foods we have tasted since the column began in 2004.

We also try new foods that are rolled out each month. To those, we don't award points. Instead, we offer opinions.

In 2010, we found a few new foods we loved, including Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt, President's rolls of Brie cheese and Milky Way Simply Caramel bars. As for flavored Laughing Cow cheese wedges, Dannon Danimals Strawberry Smash yogurt and Pepperidge Farm Cornbread Stuffing Mix, not so much.

In the fall, we tweaked the column a bit, adding much-requested nutrition information.

We appreciate tips and suggestions about grocery store foods to try. E-mail your thoughts to Kathy Saunders at kathy@kathysaunders.com with "SUGGESTIONS" in the subject line. Suggestions also may be mailed to Taster's Choice, Newsfeatures, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

Canned salmon

1. Winn-Dixie, 71

2. Royal Red, 67

3. Arctic Bay, 64

Blue corn chips

1. Clancy's, 65

2. Green Mountain Gringo, 61

3. Bearitos, 60

Salsa, Part 1

1. Publix Greenwise, 49

2. Enrico's Organic, 48

3. Hannaford, 46

Salsa, Part 2

1. Tostitos, 50

2. Great Value, 48

3. Chi-Chi's, 38

Frozen buttermilk waffles

1. Publix, 71

2. Hannaford, 50

3. Aunt Jemima, 49

Canned ravioli

1. Winn-Dixie, 49

2. Great Value, 46

3. Bon Italia, 34

Raspberry vinaigrette

1. Emeril's Raspberry Balsamic, 43

2. Ken's Steak House Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette Lite, 41

3. Marie's Raspberry Vinaigrette, 39

Instant cappuccino

1. Hills Bros. Double Mocha, 65

2. Folgers Mocha Chocolate, 63

3. Swiss Miss Mocha Cappuccino, 42

Complete meals

1. Hormel Compleats Spicy Italian Sausage & Pasta with Marinara Sauce, 20

2. Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers Ziti & Meat Sauce, 15

3. Marie Callender's Homestyle Creations Meatball Lasagna, 14

Frozen cheese pizza

1. Taste of Inspiration Mozzarella Pizza on Handmade Thin Crust, 74

2. Winn-Dixie Thin Crust Margherita, 58

3. Hannaford Flatbread Margherita, 48

Vodka pasta sauce

1. La Famiglia DelGrosso, 79

2. Newman's Own, 61

3. Publix Premium, 60

Beef jerky

1. Bridgford, 70

2. Mr. Z, 61

3. Hannaford, 60

3. Oberto, 60

Blueberry muffins from boxed mixes

1. Betty Crocker, 81

2. Krusteaz, 71

3. Duncan Hines, 50

Frozen crab cakes

1. SeaPak, 62

2. Phillips, 61

3. Archer Farms, 47

Animal crackers

1. Hannaford, 33

2. Nabisco, 29

2. Keebler, 29

2. Publix, 29

3. Stauffer's, 28

Kettle chips

1. Lay's, 88

2. Kettle, 78

3. Hannaford, 77

Baked cheese crackers

1. Cheez-It, 71

2. Kashi TLC, 61

3. Publix, 57

Soft chocolate chip cookies

1. Hannaford, 57

2. Great Value, 43

3. Keebler, 33

Cheeseburger sliders

1. T.G.I. Friday's, 63

2. Hot Pockets, 61

3. White Castle, 56

Brownies from boxed mixes

1. Betty Crocker, 83

2. Duncan Hines, 74

3. Pillsbury, 71

Orange soda

1. Publix, 60

2. Hannaford, 56

3. Winn-Dixie, 55

Honey mustard dipping sauce

1. Archer Farms Honey Mustard Champagne Dip, 72

2. French's Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, 50

3. Kraft Honey Mustard Sauce, 34

3. Ken's Lite Honey Mustard Dressing Topping & Spread, 34

Natural peanut butter

1. Skippy, 83

2. Jif, 75

3. Winn-Dixie Organic, 74

Vanilla sandwich cookies

1. Smart Option Vanilla Creme Sandwiches, 89

2. Country Choice Organic Sandwich Cremes, 87

3. Thrifty Maid Vanilla Cremes, 76

Frozen cheese tortellini

1. Market Pantry, 59

2. Publix, 52

3. Hannaford, 51

Potato salad

1. Market Pantry, 65

2. Winn-Dixie, 63

3. Walmart, 62

Frozen fast-food fries

1. Checkers, 66

2. Nathan's, 63

3. Publix, 61

Deli honey ham

1. Taste of Inspirations Wildflower, 83

2. Market Pantry, 64

3. Di Lusso, 52

Frozen meat lasagna

Marie Callender's, 54

Healthy Choice, 40

Michael Angelo's, 38

Multigrain sandwich thins

1. Pepperidge Farm, 72

2. Arnold Select, 64

3. Earth Grains, 44

Frozen pot roast

Hormel Beef Roast Au Jus, 62

Publix, 45

Tyson Beef Pot Roast in Gravy, 44

Whole-wheat rotini

1. Barilla, 63

2. Hannaford, 60

3. Market Pantry, 54

Stuffing

1. Market Pantry, 65

2. Chef's Cupboard, 61

3. Great Value, 59

Apple pie filling

1. Lucky Leaf, 66

2. Comstock, 56

3. Medford Farms, 44

Powdered brown gravy mixes

1. Lawry's, 98

2. McCormick, 64

3. French's, 57

Boxed chocolate chip cookie mixes

1. Archer Farms, 77

2. Krusteaz, 64

3. Barefoot Contessa, 55

Frozen artisan rolls

1. Alexia, 90

2. Sister Schubert's, 84

3. Rhodes, 64

Panko bread crumbs

1. JFC, 67

2. Sun Luck, 48

3. Kikkoman, 44

Frozen shrimp tempura

1. SeaPak, 64

2. Tiger Thai, 41

3. Blue Horizon, 19

Fresh mozzarella balls

1. Mozzarella Fresca, 47

2. The Fresh Market, 46

3. BelGioioso, 41

Looking back at a year of Taster's Choice rankings 01/03/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 9:52pm]

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