Navigating the choices on grocery store shelves can be as difficult as trying to find a shopping cart with four working wheels. The fearless judges on our Taster's Choice panel have taken on the challenge for the past 13 years to help shoppers traverse the aisles and select the right products for their palates.
A couple of times a year, we publish a list of the top picks from our panelists. In the past six months, judges have tasted steak sauces, frozen chicken wings, salted butter and orange juice. We also purchase and taste many of the new products advertised in end-cap displays aimed at grabbing our immediate attention. More often than not, the "new" offerings don't match up to their promotions. But, once in a while, we taste a delicious new item like Whole Fruit Frozen Juice Pops and stock our freezers.
Except for new products, we compare the options of the same foods from different manufacturers. Each month, we shop for all of the brands of various products and ask our judges to tell us how the items look, taste or smell and score them on a scale of one to 100 points. We also ask if they would buy the food. Our judging is unscientific, but the comments from our panelists can help readers understand the basis for their opinions. We also provide the scores of all of the items sampled to help shoppers make their own decisions. Some of the scores are very close, although we only describe the top three picks.
We try to shop at most of the major supermarkets including Publix, Winn-Dixie and Walmart. Usually, Trader Joe's and Fresh Market are on our shopping route, along with Aldi and Target on occasion.
We are always looking for more foods to try and appreciate reader input. If you have a suggestion, please let us know by emailing [email protected]
Here are the foods that have scored the highest among our judges since January.
Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent