Can Store-Brand Ketchup & Mayonnaise Ever Taste As Good As Your Brand-Name Faves?

Can this possibly be true?

Can this possibly be true?

When I was a child, many of the items in my kitchen cupboard were in plain white containers with red and black block lettering, so I learned early not to be a brand snob — with a couple of exceptions. I am one of those people that turn into a sour-faced 4-year-old whenever I find my only ketchup and mayonnaise options are generic store-brand versions. But my cohorts at Consumer Reports claim that there are comparable, less expensive generics available for these and other pantry staples.

On the ketchup front, Consumer Reports compared Heinz — which has a “full flavor that balances sweetness, saltiness, and sourness,” along with a hint of onion powder — to several store brands, two of which CR claims stack up to the king o’ ketchup.

“Target is remarkably similar,” writes Consumer Reports, which also cites Sam’s Club fancy ketchup as cheaper substitute, though it “tastes a bit more cooked and a bit less spicy.”

Sacrificing the brand-name in favor of either of these two options will save you about 50%.

But not all store brands are fit to challenge Heinz. CR testers found that Whole Foods’ ketchup is “thin and dark, with harsh flavors” while Trader Joe’s has a “low tomato taste, with unbalanced flavors.”

Which brings us to the mayonnaise.

While Hellmann’s — “well blended, creamy, slightly sweet and salty, and eggy, with a hint of vinegar” — may be the brand-name favorite, CR found four store brands that it claims are just as good: Whole Foods, Walmart, Costco, and Target.

“The better store brands are cheaper by at least 25%, and you’d be hard-pressed to taste a difference in a sandwich,” writes CR.

The testers did not find as much to enjoy with mayos from Trader Joe’s or Sam’s Club, which had “a big pickle-relish taste or other drawbacks.”

Check out the entire report, which also includes store-brand suggestions for ice cream, shredded cheese, cashews, cranberry juice, maple syrup, trail mix, and frozen shrimp.