CLEVELAND - This summer's drought is expected to start driving up food prices this fall. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said it could take a year before we feel the full impact.
Generic or store brand products are one way to bring down your grocery bill, but are you compromising taste? We had hundreds of people put generic and store brands to the test. Some taste testers thought they were the real thing.
"I have eight kids. I buy cereal all the time," Helen Banks said.
Bank said she spends $100 a month on cereal. She thought she knew all the brands until she took our taste test.
"It tastes like Kellogg's Frosted Flakes to me. Are they?" Banks asked.
Nope. We didn't sample any name brands. We had viewers sample store brands or generic versions of Frosted Flakes, Cheerios, Fig Newtons, Oreo, tortilla and potato chips from Walmart, Save-A-Lot Food Stores, Giant Eagle, Target and ALDI.
Target brand potato and tortilla chips were not included in the taste test because their product was not the same as other store brands. For example, the chips we found were rippled. We used regular or classic chips in our taste test.
We labeled each brand with a number so the company was a mystery to our testers, and handed out the samples in random order.
"I thought No. 5 tasted like Lays so I didn't think that was a generic," Todd Kovach said.
Oreo cookies generated the most interested reactions. If only you could see all the faces.
"The cream tasted like metal. It was not good," Alexis Boursier said.
"Yeah, very generic," Danielle Doza piped in.
We asked each taste tester for their two favorite products. We ran four tests, including our last one during lunch on Thursday at Wade Oval.
Thursday, we had tasters tell us their thoughts on chocolate chip cookies and crackers.
Brands that scored highest in our test
When we tallied the results from all our tastings, ALDI and Walmart were on top in our test.
ALDI Hinckley division Vice President Corey Stucker said in a statement, "At ALDI, we consistently provide shoppers with the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices every single day, helping them save up to 50 percent on their grocery bills. To ensure our exclusive brands meet or exceed the national brands on taste and quality, ALDI conducts rigorous testing of all our products."
"I've tasted Frosted Flakes and Tony is great, but there is no difference," Eric Moyer said.
No difference in taste, but there's a difference in price.
Walmart charges 18 cents per ounce for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes.
The Great Value version or store brand is 11.6 cents per ounce.
Save-A-Lot brand items also scored well in our test scoring in several categories.
A company spokeswoman wrote, "About 80% of our products are private label brands sold exclusively at more than 1300 Save-A-Lot stores across 39 states. Our goal at every turn, including our Private Label brands, is to deliver savings to our customers without sacrificing quality. To be listed as winner and a top contender in several categories is an absolute honor.”
"Some of the generics are better products than the original or real ones, so I would do generic in a heart beat," Emma King said.
Here's a list of the favorites for each product in our taste test:
2. Giant Eagle
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
GENERIC VERSION OF OREO COOKIES
Giant Eagle responded to its second place finish for potato chips. In a statement, Company Spokesman Dan Donovan said, "As of of the many ways Giant Eagle helps customers save every day, we offer more than 11,000 Own Brand products, including a variety of fresh foods, grocery items, household supplies and more. Each Own Brand item goes through extensive research, development, and testing phase to maintain the high standards we've set for our brands."
Check the store policy
Giant Eagle and ALDI both told us they offer a guarantee on its store branded products. ALDI said if you're not 100% satisified with an ALDI food product, the store will replace it and refund the purchase price. Giant Eagle offers you a double your money back guarantee on all Giant Eagle brand products.
While many people were surprised at the quality taste in the store and generic brand products, some testers just can't give up their long-time favorites.
"I do love my Oreo's. It's a slight obsession," Doza said.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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