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Taste test: Revisiting some old favorite brands

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For the first time since we launched Taster's Choice in summer 2004, we have started to retry some of the foods we originally sampled. In the past five years, the number of choices in local grocery stores has been growing rapidly. Where we once found only a handful of brands of a particular food, today we can find 10. We also have seen a significant increase in grocery store brands — and those not-as-well-decorated brands have continued to do well with our judges.

For Taster's Choice, we shop at Publix, Sweetbay, Wal-Mart (and, occasionally, Sam's Club), Target, health food stores and Gordon Food Service Marketplace, a discount bulk food store with locations in Clearwater and St. Petersburg. Because GFS is a source for restaurants, the food is packaged in larger quantities. Nevertheless, their products fare well with judges.

Today we provide a list of the judges' picks for the year to date. As you read through it, remember that most major brands are available at multiple grocery stores. Store brands that do not have the same name as the store are noted. Also, we note where we bought some of the lesser-known brands.

We appreciate tips to improve the column and suggestions about grocery store foods to try. E-mail your thoughts to Kathy Saunders at kathy@kathysaunders.com. Put 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.

Frozen cheese ravioli

1. Buitoni 2. Primo Gusto 3. Rosetto

Water crackers

1. Nabisco 2. LU 3. Carr's

Frozen buffalo wings

1. T.G.I. Friday's 2. Market Pantry (Target) 3. Meal Mart Glatt Kosher

String cheese

1. Market Pantry (Target) 2. Crystal Farm 3. Chuck E. Cheese

Butter pecan ice cream

1. Haagen-Dazs 2. Hannaford (Sweetbay) 3. Publix

Cottage cheese

1. Friendship 2. Great Value (Wal-Mart) 3. Lactaid

Frozen pie shells

1. Marie Callender's 2. Mrs. Smith's 3. GFS (Gordon Food Service) Marketplace

Roasted red peppers

1. Mezzetta 2. Mt. Olive 3. B&G

Bottled green tea

1. Tazo 2. Gold Peak 3. Honest Tea

Chocolate-chip cookies (100-calorie packs)

1. Keebler Chips Deluxe 2. Great Value (Wal-Mart) 3. Nabisco

Cola

1. Pepsi 2. Coke 3. Sam's Club

Ground cinnamon

1. McCormick Saigon 2. Spice Islands Organic 3. Market Pantry (Target)

Pitted prunes

1. Hannaford (Sweetbay) 2. Publix 3. Del Monte

Queso dip

1. Tostitos Salsa Con Queso 2. Fritos Chili Cheese Dip 3. EatSmart Flame Roasted Salsa Con Queso

Mini powdered doughnuts

1. Hostess Sweet Sixteen Powdered Mini Donuts 2. Dolly 3. Mrs. Freshley's

Maraschino cherries

1. Cherry Man 2. Publix 3. Great Value (Wal-Mart)

Skillet meals

1. T.G.I. Friday's Firecracker Sesame Chicken 2. Bertolli Roasted Chicken & Linguine 3. (TIE) Gourmet Dining Chicken Stir Fry Putney Pasta Chicken Alfredo

Chive and onion cream cheese

1. Philadelphia 2. Publix 3. (tie) Hannaford (Sweetbay) Great Value (Wal-Mart)

Hot dogs

1. Hebrew National Jumbo Beef 2. Nathan's Skinless 3. Hannaford (Sweetbay)

Frozen pepperoni pizzas

1. Red Baron Thin & Crispy Tuscan Style 2. Reggio's Chicago Style 3. Uno Deep Dish

Snack mix

1. Hannaford (Sweetbay) 2. Archer Farms (Target) 3. Chex Mix

Steak sauce

1. Emeril's 2. Braswell's of Georgia 3. Heinz

Garlic Texas toast

1. Hannaford (Sweetbay) 2. Publix 3. Pepperidge Farm

Bruschetta spread

1. Phil Stefani Tuscany 2. Hannaford (Sweetbay) 3. Bellino

Freezer pops

1. Fun Pops 2. Market Pantry (Target) 3. Jelly Belly

Taste test: Revisiting some old favorite brands 07/29/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:46am]

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