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Taste test: strawberry gelatin dessert

Like tissues and Kleenex, Jell-O is one of those food synonyms for any gelatin dessert. Our panelists are always surprised when they choose a generic variety over the more-familiar brand-name foods. It happened with Jell-O, although the popular brand did place second in our nonscientific poll. The final take from our judges was that there is no need to pay extra for a gelatin dessert base — especially if you are planning to add whipped cream, fresh fruit or any other sweet toppings.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Great Value 77Jell-O 59Kool-Aid 49

While the Walmart store brand of gelatin had a slight tinge of orange in the color, judges liked the strawberry flavor, describing the taste as pleasant and fruity. "It's not too sweet and it's the one that tastes most like real fruit," said one panelist. Another said, "It's got a bright berry flavor that makes my mouth sparkle." One judge said she liked the sweet and tangy balance of the gelatin. "It has a great jiggle," she added. Another said, "It's very refreshing and comforting. It reminds me of the 5th of July because we forgot to take it out of the fridge the day before."Jell-O, the real deal, didn't impress judges as much as the store brand, but it wasn't a complete disappointment. "The flavor is very subtle," said one panelist. "I would use this as a base in a salad or under a lot of whipped cream for dessert." Another said, "It's bright, orange-red and not quite as firm as the others, but it has a good balance of sweet and acidic, mild fruity flavor." A couple of judges said the Jell-O reminded them of candy. One compared the taste to watermelon, adding, "It has a nice, tart aftertaste."For those of us who grew up drinking Kool-Aid, this flavor was fairly discernible. "The main flavor is sweet," said one judge. "I like the brilliant, red color and the soft gelatin jiggle," she added. "The taste is very, very berry," said another panelist. "It's got a good color and it's refreshing." One taster was disappointed in what she described as the "generic" fruit flavor and the "lingering aftertaste." But she said she would still buy the brand, saying, "It would be a fun summer treat for kids."


they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information50 cents for a 3-ounce box from Walmart.99 cents for a 3-ounce box from Publix.59 cents for a 3-ounce box from Publix.

Also Sampled: Bakol (94 cents for a 3-ounce box from Walmart, 39 points) and Royal (50 cents for a 1.4-ounce box from Publix, 18 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Cheryl Schaefer, chef and former restaurant owner; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. 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 sizeHalf-cupHalf-cupHalf-cup
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium19g / 90mg19g / 90mg19g / 120mg
Carbs/Protein19g / 1g19g / 2g19g / 2g

Taste test: strawberry gelatin dessert 04/11/16 [Last modified: Monday, April 11, 2016 1:19pm]
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