11 Generic Products That Taste Better Than Their Name Brand Counterparts

We’ve all been there. You’re at the grocery store, shopping for, say, canned beans, and agonizing over whether you should opt for a trusted name brand like Bush’s or Goya or save a little cash by buying the generic store brand. The Sporked team has taste tested and ranked a lot of different foods (I mean, get a load of all these), and in terms of taste and quality, name brands often beat out their store brand counterparts. But that’s not always the case.

Here are 11 instances when Sporked taste tests revealed that generic products were actually more delicious than name brands. Sorry, Heinz, Dole, and Silk!

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365 Organic Unsweetened Applesauce > Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce Cups

You probably think of Mott’s as the end-all, be-all of the applesauce world, but we were underwhelmed by their thin, soupy sauce. Our top pick in our ranking of the best applesauce you can buy? Whole Foods house brand 365’s Organic Unsweetened applesauce. “Whole Foods’ applesauce doesn’t have a ton of added sugar, so it’s not cloying like many name brand applesauces,” said Sporked staff writer Danny Palumbo. “The texture is also just wonderful—coarsely blended so that it resembles something homemade.”

Full ranking: Best Applesauce: The 7 Best Applesauces to Savor With a Spoon

Trader Joe’s Greek Whole Milk Plain Yogurt > Stonyfield Organic Probiotic Yogurt

TJ’s has amassed a fervent fanbase by stocking its stores full of private label products. It’s a business built on generics, and people love it. Frankly, we’ve done too many taste tests with too many lackluster items to buy into Trader Joe’s supremacy, but when they get something right, they really get it right (and, usually, at a lower price point than a regular grocery store). If plain yogurt is a fixture on your shopping list, grab a container of Trader Joe’s Greek Whole Milk Plain Yogurt the next time you’re stocking up on pork potstickers and Unexpected Cheddar. “This rich and flavorful yogurt from Trader Joe’s did the best job of balancing tartness and richness in a harmonious way that makes it good for pretty much any application,” I wrote in our plain yogurt ranking. “The clean taste in this container is what really put it ahead of the others.” Stonyfield Probiotic plain yogurt was a close second, but TJ’s was a convincing numero uno.

Full ranking: Best Plain Yogurt: The 9 Best Plain Yogurts for a Creamy Snack

365 Organic Green Tea > Tazo Zen Green Tea

Price wise, green tea really runs the gamut. Yes, you can spend around 13 bucks on 36 bags of Republic of Tea’s Get Matcha (our third favorite green tea), or you can spend around $5 for 70 bags of our favorite green tea, Whole Foods 365 Organic Green Tea. “A lot of the teas we tasted were bitter, and this is proof that they don’t have to be,” I wrote in our ranking of the best green tea bags. “Some of the flavored teas might be more exciting and some of the matchas might have a bolder flavor, but if you’re looking for something simple and reliable, this is the best green tea you can buy.” I stand by that assessment!

Full ranking: Best Green Tea: The 7 Best Green Teas for a Mellow Morning

Trader Joe’s Organic Sweet Bread & Butter Pickles > Bubbies Bread & Butter Chips

People are nuts for Bubbies pickles, but their bread & butter chips didn’t even crack the top three in our ranking of the best bread & butter pickles you can buy. In fact, our favorite jar of these sweet and salty guys came from Trader Joe’s. “Unlike some of the other bread and butter pickles we tried, these aren’t sickeningly sweet,” Sporked staff writer Jordan Myrick wrote in their ranking of the best bread & butter pickles. “They have the perfect balance of sugariness and sourness…These perfect pickles had me wanting to eat them from the jar by the fistful.”

Full ranking: The 5 Best Bread and Butter Pickles Are Sweet, Sour, and Sensational

Trader Joe’s Ode to the Classic Potato Chip > Classic Lay’s

TJ’s coming in hot with the tastiest, crispiest plain potato chips we tried during our plain potato chip taste test. And that’s really saying something given that Danny sourced more than 30 bags of chips from all over the country for this tasting. “This is everything a plain potato chip should be: light, crispy, and crunchy,” Danny wrote. “The potato taste is fresh and not at all processed, and they have a lovely salty and greasy quality that every potato chip should have.” Sorry, Lay’s. We love you too (see!), but you couldn’t hold a candle to good ol’ Joe in this matchup.

Full ranking: The 11 Best Plain Potato Chips, Ranked

Nature’s Nectar Pineapple Juice > Dole 100% Pineapple Juice

Okay, so, all pineapple juice is at least a little bit delicious, but I’m telling you, this Nature’s Nectar pineapple juice from Aldi absolutely slays Dole. “This juice from Aldi is simultaneously smooth and tart, and we all really, really loved it,” I wrote in our ranking of the best pineapple juices you can buy. “It’s smooth, but has an almost citrusy bite that was missing from most of the other juices we tried.” Dole, the most popular name brand of pineapple juice, is good in a nostalgic way, subtle can flavor and all, but Aldi’s house brand has it beat.

Full ranking: Aloha, Flavor: These Are the 6 Best Pineapple Juices You Can Buy

Trader Joe’s Organic Italian Dressing with Romano Cheese > Ken’s Steak House Italian with Aged Romano Dressing

Ken’s Steak House is a reliable brand that makes good salad dressings, but TJ’s really did something special with its Organic Italian with Romano Cheese. “This is a prime example of perfect salad dressing alchemy…great acidity, good oil-based richness, and a healthy amount of herbage,” Danny wrote in his ranking of the best Italian dressings. “Trader Joe’s makes the ideal Italian dressing, probably better than what you could make at home.” Danny described Ken’s Italian as “herby, funky, cheesy, and delicious,” but it just didn’t live up to the store brand in this case.

Full ranking: Dress Up Your Salad with the 9 Best Italian Dressings

Good & Gather Crispy Chicken Breast Strips >  Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips

Target. The store you can’t enter without spending at least $150; the store you shouldn’t enter without buying some chicken tenders. The store’s house brand Good & Gather makes the best ones we tried during our taste test, outdoing trusted poultry purveyor Foster Farms. “Good & Gather’s tenders aren’t spicy, but they have some nice spice in the breading that offers a welcome burst of flavor,” Danny wrote in his chicken tender ranking. “The meat, which is fresh and clean, actually tastes like chicken breast too, not some ungodly chicken paste.” Foster Farms came in at a respectable number three, but ultimately we thought they had too much breading.

Full ranking: Finger Lickin’ Good: The 9 Best Frozen Chicken Tenders

O Organics Original Unsweetened Soymilk > Silk Original Soy Milk

We have a tip for all you soy boys and girls out there: Silk isn’t the best soy milk you can buy. That honor goes to O Organics, a generic sold at Albertsons-owned grocery stores. “It has a thick, creamy taste and texture, while still maintaining a pleasant lightness,” Jordan wrote in their ranking of the best soy milks you can buy. “Unlike some of the soy milks we tried, this one didn’t have a bean-y flavor.” Yep, some soy milk actually tastes like soy beans and it’s a little weird. Silk wasn’t one of those, but its flavor couldn’t match O Organics.

Full ranking: Party Like It’s 1999 with the 5 Best Soy Milks

365 Breaded Fish Sticks > Ian’s Natural Foods Fish Sticks

Fish sticks are delicious, and anyone who says otherwise is incorrect. You’d probably expect to see Gorton’s on a list of the best fish sticks you can buy, but they didn’t make the cut in our taste test. In fact, Whole Foods 365 Breaded Fish Sticks blew all their name brand competition out of the water (pun intended). “The moment I sunk my teeth into the 365 Breaded Fish Sticks, I knew they were the best fish sticks we would try,” Jordan wrote. “They have fish flavor without being fishy. This is key to good fish sticks, and this brand has perfected it.” We also really dug Ian’s, but they’re much pricier than Whole Foods (upward of $8 for 14 ounces versus $10 for a whopping 32 ounces of the generic).

Full ranking: Best Fish Sticks: The 5 Best You Can Buy


About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • Another option is for canned country (white sausage) gravy. Great Value > Libby’s.

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