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Taste test: banana bread mixes

One of our kindhearted neighbors always brings us a loaf of her delicious banana bread when she starts her fall baking. We enjoy every bite of the sweet, moist and fruity slices at breakfast and for afternoon snacks. While I haven't made many banana loaves from scratch, I often will buy a boxed mix if I need to use up any overripe bananas. This week, I baked five loaves of banana bread from store-bought mixes. I followed the package directions, adding about a cup of mashed bananas to each mixture.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Pillsbury Quick Bread 72Chiquita 53Simple Mills 42

Light and airy texture combined with absolute moistness put the Pillsbury banana bread mix at the top for our judges. "It has a definite homemade taste," said one panelist. "It has a very nice crumb and would be great toasted with a pat of butter." Another said the taste reminded her of a banana popsicle, bringing back fond childhood memories. One who raved about the taste called Pillsbury's offering a "heavyweight" among banana breads. "It's got really good banana flavor," he said.This bread mix from the banana grower appealed to our panelists because of the mix of banana and wheat flavors. "It tastes authentic," said one judge. "It's not overly sweet." Another said, "It has great color, real banana flavor and the perfect amount of density." A couple of judges said this would be a great bread to serve for breakfast before guests arrive for Thanksgiving dinner. "I would serve it as dessert," said another.Judges appreciated this bread, made with almond flour, for its darker color and robust texture. "It's a very heavy bread, but packed with plenty of banana taste," one judge said. The bread was so moist it tended to fall apart easily, but panelists were not put off by the crumbs. "It may not hold up to a thick slathering of jam, but it tastes great on its own," said one taster, who enjoyed every bite of the Simple Mills slice.

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$1.99 for a 14-ounce box from Target.$2.99 for a 13.7-ounce box from Target.$8.99 for a 9-ounce box from the Fresh Market.

Also Sampled: Simply Homemade ($2.98 for a 13.4-ounce box from Walmart, 40 points) and Trader Joe's ($2.69 for a 15-ounce box, 40 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Bauer, area coordinator for Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc.; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Kay Hodnett, personal chef. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeOne of 14 slicesOne of 12 slicesOne of 12 slices
Fat/Fiber0.5g / 0g1.5g / 0g3g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium11g / 160mg13g / 130mg7g / 125mg
Carbs/Protein23g / 2g26g / 2g14g / 2g

Taste test: banana bread mixes 10/12/15 [Last modified: Monday, October 12, 2015 10:35am]
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