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Taste test: potato puffs

Potato puffs are commonly called tater tots after the familiar ones from Ore-Ida.

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Potato puffs are commonly called tater tots after the familiar ones from Ore-Ida.

Back to school means back to weeknight dinner dilemmas and the search for child-friendly foods. Potato puffs, commonly called tater tots after the familiar ones from Ore-Ida, are a fun option. We assembled a panel of moms to help us pick the brand of potatoes they would most likely serve to their children. All were baked in the oven, according to package directions.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
My Essentials

Tasty Taters 65
Great Value Taters 64Ore-Ida Tater Tots 51
Judges'

comments
Strong potato flavor and an attractive, golden color gave these potatoes the edge on the competition. The store-brand potatoes from Sweetbay baked into nice, crispy puffs with soft centers. With a little salt or seasoning, judges said these would be acceptable to adults as well. One panelist said she would use this brand in a baked casserole with cheeses and cream. "They would hold up great and give any dish a lot of texture," she said.Walmart's potato puffs had great color and shape and a more subtle potato flavor. Judges liked the taste of these but wanted ketchup or dipping sauce to enhance the flavor. "My kids would really like these because they are plain and not overbearing," one judge said. "They would make a great side dish for a burger, hot dog, grilled cheese sandwich or even chicken strips."Fresh was the word panelists used to describe these originals. While a couple of brands seemed to have a little freezer-burn flavor, these tasted like newly shredded potatoes. "I would serve these as breakfast potatoes," one judge said. "They would be especially good with a little dash of Tabasco sauce."
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.18 for a 32-ounce bag from Sweetbay.$2 for a 32-ounce bag from Walmart.$2.50 for a 32-ounce bag from Publix.


Also Sampled: Publix ($2.15 for a 32-ounce bag, 26 points), Alexia ($2.99 for a 28-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 16 points) and Winn-Dixie ($3.19 for a 32-ounce bag, 21 points).

Panelists: Gina Schiller, mother of two college students; Jill Dunn, mother of two high schoolers and one college student; Rhonda Sanderford, mother of one grown daughter and two grown sons; and Sherry Valadie, mother of two middle schoolers and one high schooler. 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 jkeeler@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size9 pieces10 pieces9 pieces
Calories160160160
Fat/Fiber7g / 1g8g / 2g8g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 400mg0g / 330mg0g / 440mg
Carbs/Protein21g / 2g20g / 2g20g / 2g

Taste test: potato puffs 08/26/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 11:38am]
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