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The 2013 taste tests: from gelato to gluten-free pasta

In the past year, our tasting choices went from one end of the grocery store to the other and the full gamut of healthiness. Judges liked two foods — Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie (what's not to love) and the Sea Salt Caramel Gelato by Haagen-Dazs — so much that they gave them 90 or more points out of 100, which earned them spots in the Taster's Choice Hall of Fame. • We tried veggie burgers, frozen edamame and gluten-free pastas with surprisingly good results. On the other hand, we didn't favor some of the instant iced coffees on the market. This summer our tasting panel will celebrate 10 years of sampling food and beverages and reporting our findings to help our readers navigate the choices in local grocery stores and food markets. We try to taste what we think shoppers are buying. Our panelists aren't shy about giving their opinions on the appearance, flavor or texture of the products. We look for items with a variety of brands from which to choose and we occasionally try new foods on the market. We shop at the grocery stores in our neighborhoods, primarily, Publix, Walmart, Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie, Fresh Market and, sometimes, Trader Joe's in Sarasota. (We look forward to the opening of Trader Joe's stores in Tampa and St. Petersburg later this year.) In 2013, we continued to be impressed with the quality of store-brand foods and the number of new brands. In November, we enlisted the help of future food writers, using students in the Writing About Food course at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. As always, we welcome suggestions from readers and look forward to trying all the offerings of particular foods — so you don't have to. • Here is a recap of how our year tasted. Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

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.

CategoryProductScore
CHICKEN

POT PIES
Marie Callender's97
Boston Market67
Trader Joe's54
OATMEALGreat Value70
Publix54
Quaker Oats49
Raspberry vinaigretteKen's Light Options Raspberry Walnut71
Market Pantry56
Annie's Naturals Lite54
Hollandaise sauce mixesMcCormick65
Knorr39
Simply Organic28
Frozen mini

quiches
Taste of Inspirations72
Chudleigh's57
GFS (Gordon Food Service)50

Veggie burgersMorningStar Farms75
Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burger57
Publix Greenwise Garden Style Veggie Burger50
Tater totsMy Essentials Tasty Taters65
Great Value Taters64
Ore-Ida Tater Tots51
Gluten-free pastaMueller's Corn & Rice Pasta Blend Penne76
Jovial Brown Rice Pasta61
Heartland Corn & Rice Blend Penne Pasta57
Packaged chicken breast lunch meatSara Lee86
Hillshire Farm60
Publix58
Chocolate nut spreadsJif Whips87
Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread With Dark Chocolate70
Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams40

Vanilla

frozen yogurt
Kemps83
Trader Joe's64
tcby60

Tomato soupArcher Farms Organic Tomato Basil66
Pacific Tomato Basil Homestyle45
Campbell's Gourmet Bisques Tomato Roasted Garlic Bacon44

OATMEALGreat Value70
Publix54
Quaker Oats49

Raspberry vinaigretteKen's Light Options Raspberry Walnut71
Market Pantry56
Annie's Naturals Lite54

Hollandaise sauce mixesMcCormick65
Knorr39
Simply Organic28

Frozen mini

quiches
Taste of Inspirations72
Chudleigh's57
GFS (Gordon Food Service)50

Vanilla almond milkFresh Market 79
Silk Pure Almond56
So Delicious55

Frozen edamameArcher Farms83
Trader Joe's83
Cascadian Farm62
Seapoint Farms60

Yellow rice mixesHannaford67
Vigo56
Dixie Lily47

Maple syrupField Day Organic78
Hannaford73
Maple Grove Farms65

Instant iced

coffee
Starbucks60
Hills Bros. French Vanilla42
Barnie's Coffee Kitchen

pronto! Hawaiian Hazelnut
29
Maxwell House International Iced French Vanilla22

Peanut butter pretzelsFresh Market73
Publix59
HK Anderson57

Ready-made sweet iced teaPure Leaf61
Gold Peak42
Swiss41

Pistachio nutsWonderful90
Great Value81
Planters74

Dried

pineapple
Crispy Green72
Crunchies65
Brothers All-Natural57

Caramel cornCrunch 'n Munch87
Quaker Popped Rice Snacks70
Cracker Jack69

Soy sauceKikkoman68
La Choy61
Publix56

Frozen coconut treatsFruttare72
Helados Mexico64
Fruitfull Coconut Cream57

Tater totsMy Essentials Tasty Taters65
Great Value Taters64
Ore-Ida Tater Tots51

Gluten-free pastaMueller's Corn & Rice Pasta Blend Penne76
Jovial Brown Rice Pasta61
Heartland Corn & Rice Blend Penne Pasta57

Packaged chicken breast lunch meatSara Lee86
Hillshire Farm60
Publix58

Chocolate nut spreadsJif Whips87
Skippy Natural Peanut Butter Spread With Dark Chocolate70
Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams40

MarinadesMarket Pantry Teriyaki69
Maui Maid Teriyaki Marinade61
KC Masterpiece Honey Teriyaki59
Paula Deen Collection Savannah Marinade58
West Indies Spice Co. Pirate's Gold Original56
Lawry's Teriyaki With Pineapple Juice55

Honey oat granolaNature Valley63
Kind Health Grains Oats & Honey Clusters With Toasted Coconut62
Cascadian Farm Oats & Honey Granola53

Caramel gelatoHaagen-Dazs Sea Salt Caramel Gelato93
Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato83
Archer Farms Caramel Biscotti Gelato80
Ciao Bella Gelato Sea Salt Caramel Squares62

Energy drinksFull Throttle63
Starbucks Double Shot Energy59
Monster Energy56

White corn chipsHannaford58
Santitas55
Snyder's of Hanover54

Refrigerated biscuitsWinn-Dixie75
Pillsbury Grands72
Pepperidge Farm54

Shortbread cookiesWalkers78
Maddy's55
Voortman52

The 2013 taste tests: from gelato to gluten-free pasta 01/07/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 11:45am]

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