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Published Nov. 14, 2012

It's been seven years since our panelists sampled refrigerated mashed potatoes. Simply Potatoes Diner's Choice brand won back then and we've been serving it to our families ever since. They are delicious, even for special occasions. Since then, a few new frozen thaw-and-mash brands have hit the market, and even though the panel likes a couple of them better than Diner's Choice, it remains our winner when we don't have much time.

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Also Sampled: Alexia Mashed Potatoes With Yukon Gold & Sea Salt ($4.49 for a 22-ounce bag from rhe Fresh Market, 22 points); Hormel Country Crock Homestyle Mashed Potatoes ($3.99 for a 24-ounce tub from Publix, 36 points); Bob Evans ($3.79 for a package of two 6-ounce servings from Publix, 38 points); and Market Pantry ($2.39 for a 24-ounce package from Target, 26 points).

Panelists: John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Janet K. Keeler, Times food and travel editor; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. 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

Product/Score (out of 100) Trader Joe's 66 Ore-Ida Steam n' Mash 63 Simply Potatoes Diner's Choice 54
Judges' comments Strong potato flavor, tiny flecks of pepper and fluffy texture gave these potatoes the edge in our tasting. "They have a very smooth texture and they are perfectly salted," said one judge. "They would be even better with a dab of butter." Another said he would pair these with chicken gravy. "A good potato should complement what it's paired with and this one does the trick," he said. These came frozen as round potato "pucks" and heated in the microwave into perfect mashed potatoes. Ore-Ida's potatoes went from the freezer to the microwave and required a little mashing before they were served. The package directions call for adding a bit of milk, cream or butter as desired. We tasted them plain and with fixings. Either way, they were a hit. "I would welcome these on my plate," said one judge. "Topped with a little butter, these taste gorgeously homemade," said another. "They are smooth, buttery, perfectly salted and creamy." These refrigerated potatoes have simple ingredients: potatoes, half-and-half and butter. The real potato chunks made these appealing to most panelists. They liked the sturdiness of the potatoes as well as the clean, white color. "I would easily guess these are homemade," said one judge. "I would love to mix them with corn kernels during a holiday dinner." Another said, "I would definitely serve these for Thanksgiving."
Would they buy? All four judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes. Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information $4.19 for a 10-ounce bag from Publix. $2.50 for a 6-ounce bag from Publix. $3.99 for a 6.7-ounce box from Target.