When our panelists for the Taster's Choice column award foods more than 90 out of 100 points, the items are featured in our Hall of Fame. In recent years, the hall has been pretty empty. This year is no different.
Each year, we run two columns listing the favorite foods tasted the previous six months. Below is a list of the "winners" from our tastings for the first half of 2016. Since January, our panelists haven't been thrilled with many foods, but they have given some pretty high scores to a few unsuspecting entries. They loved Indian River Select grapefruit juice (89 points); Krusteaz Double Chocolate muffins made from a mix (83 points); coconut oil from the Fresh Market (81 points); Gefen and Wild Selections water-packed tuna (87 and 82 points, respectively); Lay's Kettle chips (84 points); and Arnold hot dog buns (86 points).
We started our Taster's Column in 2004 just before the Fourth of July. Our first column was a hot dog-tasting competition.
We try to taste foods that are popular among our readers as well as those lesser-known items lining local grocery store shelves. Our mission is to help shoppers navigate through the many product choices offered by food manufacturers. In February, we tried 18 brands of pizza sauce — so you don't have to.
We also like to try new foods for readers who might not want to spend their own money on an unknown treat or staple. One recommendation from the panelists this spring was the Breyers Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. It tasted like a Reese's peanut butter candy cup in the form of ice cream, and judges loved it.
We try to find healthier options when available. We prepared 10 frozen beef burgers for one column this May. And we followed up with a column on frozen veggie burgers.
In general, we shop at all major grocery stores including Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart and Target. Sometimes we get to Aldi, the Fresh Market and Trader Joe's.
And remember, we are comparing the same foods. Readers often ask us to sample fresh fruit, for example. But an apple purchased at a store one day would not taste the same as an apple purchased at another store. It depends on when it was picked, how it was shipped and the ripeness of the fruit.
We always are open to suggestions. If you have ideas for our judges, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.