Name brands prove to be a better buy

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Photos by Grant Harrison 

Whether it be the crack of dawn or the stroke of midnight, teens are hungry. When it comes to satisfying that craving, many will swear by their favorite generic brand product. Regardless, from breakfast to the midnight fridge raid, name brands are generally the better product available for your taste buds.

While it’s quite possible that Wheaties is the breakfast of champions, toaster pastries are quickly becoming the new breakfast favorite. For this food type, Pop-Tarts are considered the leading brand, but is the extra price really worth it?

At just two quarters more than their competitor, a box of eight Pop-Tarts is only slightly more expensive than the Great Value version. Both boxes contain the same number of pastries, and if you’re a calorie craving runner like me, you’ll be pleased to know both will equally fill the tank. At this point, the true difference lies in taste.

Soft, with a thick flavor, Cherry Pop-Tarts easily blow away the generic brand competition. They’re smooth, they go down easy with a glass of milk, and their warm, refreshing flavor makes those early mornings go just a little bit easier. Great Value’s equivalent, with it’s sharp, sugary filling and crunchy pastry, is about as piercing as my 6:00 a.m. alarm clock. Instead of a refreshing wake up, Great Value toaster pastries feel like something out of trigonometry: sharp, and not good for early morning minds. Unless you’re a hardcore thrift shopper, or simply enjoy being woken up by a jolt of sugary surprise, the better route is to buy some Pop-Tarts. Why compromise on the most important meal of the day, anyway?

Aside from breakfast, the other key mealtime is the midnight snack, where late night munchers will find themselves drawn toward the ice cream. While both Häagen-Dazs and Great Value ice cream have their perks, the name brand is definitely better than its generic competitor.

Although, if quantity is what you’re after, the less expensive brand is where to shop. Great Value Cookies and Cream ice cream will only run you $2.97 for what ends up being a considerably larger — 585 grams larger — chunk of ice cream. Compare this to the $3.88 for a bite sized tub of Häagen-Dazs’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the price gap becomes abundantly apparent.

The cost, however, doesn’t tell the whole tale. The real story takes place on the tastebuds, a setting where Häagen-Dazs steals the show. While both brands are aiming for the same taste, the results are leagues apart. Great Value offers a puree blend of diluted vanilla, cookie dough flavoring and crumbly bits of chocolate residue. Contrasted to Häagen-Dazs, which offers actual, chewable chunks of cookie dough, large pieces of chocolate, and rich vanilla, Walmart’s house brand doesn’t hold a candle to its high-end competitor. In fact, the rich texture of Häagen-Dazs isn’t some immeasurable quality: the brand is 68 grams heavier per 1/2 cup than an equivalent amount of Great Value ice cream. It’s simply a thicker blend, and that’s what sets apart the Häagen-Dazs recipe.

While I’m just as thrifty as any Macklemore fan out there, there comes a point when the extra dollar is worth it. The genuine quality of Häagen-Dazs ice cream outweighs — literally — the lower price and larger portions of the Great Value alternative.

For teenagers, money tends to be tight. I get that, and I realize that cost-saving shopping is a great way to cut down on the expenses. But when it comes to name brands and generic brands, you’re going to want to spend the extra coin. Waking up is hard enough. Cuddling with your tub of ice cream is difficult too. So make it easier on yourself, and your taste buds, and spend a bit more than the 20 dollars in your pocket.

Grant Harrison
Guest Reporter