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What brand foods can you not live without?

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I love trying new things at the grocery store, but I tend to stick to what is on sale. Someone recently reccommended Krusteez brand for lemon bars and I tried them and really enjoyed them. I see all the fancy $6 pasta sauce jars but I wouldn't want to splurge on a dud. What brands of products do you just love and think are totally worth the $$ they cost? Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. Unfortunately, even favorite brands have lemons in their product lines...case in point. I always highly recommend Amy's Kitchen brand pasta sauce, organic , expensive but I think worth it to have on hand those times you can't make your own. This is based on having tried the "family marinara", and the "tomato basil", both excellent. BUT, last week I bought the "low sodium marinara", that's all that was left on the shelf. This is awful, is full of sugar, the 4th ingredient on the list!, the regular marinara has NO sugar added.
    So I can't recommend the whole Amy's brand of sauces, just the 2 flavors I have tried...

    25 Replies
    1. re: ciaolette

      the two almost unanimous have to be hellman's (best foods) mayo and heinz ketchup, and throw in lea & perrin's and jif creamy pb.
      this should be a good topic.

      1. re: byrd

        Wholeheartedly agree on the Hellman's mayo and the Heinz ketchup. Also Land o'Lakes butter and Ritz crackers.

        1. re: Deenso

          Duke's Mayo
          Heinz Catsup
          Bluebell ice cream
          Glory canned veggies
          Vlasic pickles
          Hebrew National weiners

          1. re: DumpCake

            +1 on Heinz. Fiance won't even touch anything else. (He gets so mad when restaurants use a Heinz bottle and refill it with Hunts.)

            He did recently try Annie's Naturals, and didn't mind it. But that's because it tasted more like barbecue sauce than anything.

            1. re: Kontxesi

              I've found that "simply heinz" is also very good.

          2. re: Deenso

            Plugra is so much better than Land O' Lakes.


            1. re: Deenso

              ditto on the heinz ketchup, hellman's mayo, land o lakes butter and the ritz, plus philadelphia cream cheese, skippy extra crunchy peanut butter, triscuits and gulden's spicy brown mustard

              1. re: Deenso

                For me it's Cain's mayo. Most every other brand have boiler chemicals in them.

                Tho I don't do ketchup often, when I do, it has to be Heinz.

              2. re: byrd

                Agree with you on all counts.

                1. re: byrd

                  Jiff peanut butter? Have you tried natural peanut butter, ie, the brands that are just peanuts and a bit of salt? So much better taste! My favorite is, I think, called "Real" peanut butter, in a squat jar, refrigerated, not available at every store. Excellent! When I can't get that, I buy Smuckers natural. To mix in the oil (which rises to the top in unhomogenated PB) put one beater on your hand mixer, and insert it into the jar (or use one of the stick mixers). Then refrigerate, and the oil does not separate again. No sugar, no hydrogenated fat. Just peanut flavor. You can also buy the fresh ground stuff at Whole Foods, although I've never done this. (Of course, if you are used to the added sugar in commercial peanut butter, and the smoother texture, I'm sure the natural stuff takes some getting used to.)

                  1. re: Anne H

                    your missing the point of the topic.

                    1. re: byrd

                      Actually, I think she is one of the few people who got the topic.

                      IMO, I thought the OP was asking which of all those brands you pass in the market and cost $$ are worth it.

                      While I agree that I wouldn't buy anything but Heinz catsup, Best Foods (aka Hellman's) mayo or French's yellow mustard, that's hardly a revelation and more in the nickel and dime range of extra price rather than $$.

                      The list could go on about familiar brand names rather than generics ... Haagen Dazs or Bryer instead of supermarket ice cream, Quaker oatmeal instead of supermarket brands (how DO they make oatmeal taste that bad?), brand whole bean coffee rather than ... definately those generic brands ... or the pre-ground stuff in cans like Yuban ..., Peppridge Farm cookies instead of generic, etc.

                      So pointing out that a pricier naturual peanut butter is better than Jiff, seems to me, exactly getting the point of the OP.

                      I agree with another poster that Nueske's Bacon is worth the splurge both in price and calories. In the category of meat, Diestel turkey is really worth the price. If you go back to the supermarket sale turkeys after a Diestel, they taste like cardboard.

                      I don't see this often, but Narsai David's mustard is really worth the $$$ ... $$$.

                      LU Petit Ecolier cookies.

                      Kind of an interesting flip side of this is what isn't worth either a few pennies or dollars more.

                      There's a new tomato coming on the market, Rosso Bruno, that quite frankly, if you must buy a supermarket tomato doesn't taste that much better than the regular supermarket brand.

                      When I finally ripened the second tomato to the perfect condition mentioned on the package, yes it was tastier, but still not up to farmers market standards. However, they don't use pesticides. Still, supermarket organic tomato or rosso bruno ... whichever was less expensive.

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      1. re: rworange

                        its obvious that natural homemade pb or mayo or mustard etc. are better products than a jar or a can but what "brand" of natural pb are we talking about?

                        1. re: byrd

                          The brand I prefer is named "Real" peanut butter. That's the brand name. A little confusing, not just refering to "real peanut butter", I mean the brand. Smuckers is second best. I'd just as soon not eat peanut butter if I can't get one of those brands (or something comparable).

                          (Thanks, rw, glad you understood.)

                          1. re: Anne H

                            misunderstood you, reading up on "real" pb i think that they were bought out by hunt-wesson who is owned by conagra, popular brand in the minnesota and surrounding area.

                            1. re: byrd

                              I think it's unfortunate how many of these seemingly small brands are actually just another incarnation of huge multinational corporate conglomerations! Still, it's great peanut butter.

                              I'm also addicted to almond butter, the only brand I've ever bought is Whole Foods, can't say I know for sure it is the best, since I haven't tried any others. Just finished breakfast, two slices of whole wheat toast with almond butter, my favorite breakfast.

                              1. re: Anne H

                                next time try drizzling some Attiki brand honey (imported from Greece, readily available in all mediterranian and middle eastern stores) on top of the almond butter, Attiki is definetly the Hellman's of honey.

                                1. re: byrd

                                  OOOOh. Attiki is the greatest. http://www.attiki-pittas.gr/index.asp... . It's not just any wildflower honey. It is definitely unique and worth a try for honey lovers.

                                  1. re: byrd

                                    until you try http://www.volcanoislandhoney.com/. i actually did a tour of the place and got to put on a beekeeper suit and look at the hives. richard is very nice and passionate.

                                    it's thick and pearlescent and tastes incredible. whole foods in hawaii stocks it, and it's available online. the standard kiawe white honey is my favorite. and it costs mega bucks. i hate eating standard, cooked honey now, but i can't always afford to buy the good stuff. even pure, raw honey from the farmers' markets or other honey companies i've tried do not come close to this brand.

                                  2. re: Anne H

                                    Maranatha is another good brand of almond butter, as like the Whole Foods 365 brand, it always tastes fresh out of the jar. Neither is quite as good as fresh ground, but considering that's more than twice the cost of the jarred, this is one I compromise on, since the jarred is really darned good.

                        2. re: Anne H

                          Ditto. I couldn't live without my jar of Real peanut butter in the fridge. It tastes so much like peanuts! I couldn't go back to those super-sugary brands.

                          The only other thing I could think of for this topic is green Tabasco sauce. I eat this stuff like soup.

                          And I would like to add Annie's Truffle and Black Olive salad dressing to the list, but they stopped making it, and I'm still alive. So I guess I can live without it.


                          1. re: AnneInMpls

                            My son cannot live without green tabasco.

                            1. re: Lewes17266

                              When it was first introduced, I think I was going through about a bottle a week of green Tobasco! All by myslef! It's wonderful on a cheese quesadilla. I'm glad to say I've slowed down to about a bottle every six weeks now. I didn't need all that cheese and tortillas in my diet!

                          2. re: Anne H

                            "simply Jif" is a low sugar version of Jif and is delicious. I sent my husband to buy it recently and he came home with regular. Felt like eating a mouthful of sugar. Simply Jif is delicious- very low in sugar.

                            1. re: Emilief

                              and very high in hydrogenated fats. probably you can live -longer- without it.

                      2. I love napa style products. They have great olive oil,preserves,lavander honey and much more. their lavender honey is more aromatic than the one I brought back from paris! Napastyle.com
                        I also love mighty leaf tea, san marzano tomatoes to make pizza and pasta sauce. Niman ranch for natural pork products such as bacon. I love food and try to buy the best I possibly can.

                        1. Rao's Marinara sauce- made by Rao restaurant in NYC. I use it for everything- e.g. as a base for bolognese sauce. An excellent product, but expensive.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Emilief

                            I totally agree with this. I think Rao's jarred sauce is the most authentic one in the market and I also use it as a base for other sauces and on it's own. It is expensive for jarred sauce, but we're not a family with kids, so for us the cost isn't much of a factor.


                            1. re: sivyaleah

                              I totally agree with Rao's...love it, wish it wasn't so expensive. I am also loyal to:
                              Best Foods (Hellmans)mayo
                              Heinz ketchup
                              Grey Poupon dijon mustard
                              'O' vinegars
                              Niman Ranch hot dogs (no preservatives)
                              Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce
                              Colemans beef (all natural)
                              Plugra butter

                              1. re: Ericka

                                We are a Sweet Baby Rays house, too. (I use Bone Suckin' Sauce when I want to feel special, though.)

                            2. re: Emilief

                              Their vodka sauce is on sale in my local grocery store right now -- is it as good as the marinara?

                            3. I never thought that much about canned tomatoes until I tried Muir Glen. It makes it hard now to borrow a can of tomatoes, because I don't care much for those other brands. Muir Glen diced tomatoes, tomatoey and clean tasting.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Pat Hammond

                                I like their whole tomatoes. I think they taste better because they have ceramic lined tins

                              2. Heinz ketchup
                                Coca Cola

                                1. President butter. I used to really like Plugra but have been disappointed in the flavor the last few times I've purchased it.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: loveskittles

                                    +1 on the Plugra though I do have others around to use in certain dishes where butter is not really the standout and the brand/style won't make a difference.

                                  2. As others have said - Hellman's mayo and Heinz ketchup. Also:

                                    Gulden's spicy brown mustard
                                    Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes
                                    President butter
                                    Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese
                                    Genova Tonno canned tuna in oil
                                    Kitchen Basics beef and chicken stocks
                                    Libby's 100% pure canned Pumpkin

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Linda W.

                                      Does everyone agree that philly cream cheese is the best? I was under the impression that there was much better out there (Although I always end up buying philly)


                                      1. re: Zaheen

                                        If you have a good deli that makes their own - it's far better than Philly. Philly tastes gummy and strange to me now.

                                        1. re: bryan

                                          I agree. Sometimes one can better brands than Philly in supermarkets. Look at the label - if there is Xanthan, Guar etc added, it is authentic as "American" cheese food.

                                          1. re: bryan

                                            If in the store, I like Temptee cream cheese (I think it's by Breakstone). But I agree that deli or bagel shop homemade is best.

                                            1. re: bryan

                                              I agree with going with a bagel shop cream cheese, if you can. But for store-bought, I'll take Philly over any store brand, and I detest the Neufchatel cheese.

                                            2. re: Zaheen

                                              this is available at natural foods markets--it's drreamy!

                                              Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                thanks! it does look dreamy!

                                              2. re: Zaheen

                                                In the supermarkets here I have never seen anything but Philly or store brand. Never even thought that "someone else" must make cream cheese. I will have to look next time I am at whole foods.

                                                agree on heinz and best foods. used to be confirmed skippy, but now eat either skippy or jif. coke is the real thing. does anyone except lea & perrins make worchestershire sauce? sirrachia had better have a rooster on it.

                                                1. re: Zaheen

                                                  I never buy Philly cream cheese. Personally I do NOT think it is worth the extra money, particularly if i'm baking with it.

                                              3. Cholula hot sauce for pizza and eggs.

                                                1. Nueske's Bacon
                                                  Minor's Chicken Broth Concentrate
                                                  Muir Glen Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
                                                  Diamond Kosher Salt
                                                  Penzey's Spices
                                                  Boyajian Oils (esp orange)
                                                  Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce
                                                  French's Yellow Mustard

                                                  1. s
                                                    Suburban Sandy

                                                    Hellman's light mayo. Heinz ketchup. Frank's Red Hot sauce. Hunt's tomato sauce. Alessi jarred pesto (if I am in a hurry). Coffee Mate low fat creamer. Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (preferably the spicy one). Maxwell House coffee (but I will also buy 8 o'clock). Newman's Own light italian.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Suburban Sandy
                                                      Suburban Sandy

                                                      I forgot. Smucker's Natural chunky peanut butter. And I do like the Goya products. I make a rice dish using their pigeon peas, sofrito and other stuff. Good products.

                                                    2. Alessi jarred tomato sauce. Tastes like fresh tomato and you can blend finer and use to make Bloody Marys.

                                                      1. Agree on the Muir Glen tomatoes.

                                                        Teddy Peanut Butter. I can't be without this stuff in my house. Most all natural brands have a gritty unpleasant texture, the usual supermarket brands are disgustingly sweet and slimey. Teddy's is the Holy Grail of peanut butter.

                                                        Goya canned beans in general, and chick peas in particular. Generally, I go for the organic versions of most stuff, but every organic canned bean I've ever tasted has been awful. Goya's chick peas are the best.

                                                        Otherwise, I don't buy a lot of brand-name stuff. I do have a deep attachment to Frontier Natural Walnut Flavoring for baking, those Ginger People ginger-peanut chew candies, and the Ceres mango and passionfruit juices for making spritzers and cocktails, but those are more products than the particular brands, if you know what I mean. I haven't tried other version of the same products, so I don't know if other companies makes these things or if they are just as good.

                                                        Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: curiousbaker

                                                          Agree on the Teddie's--super chunky, though. I grew up where they made it and worked at the factory for a while in high school. The days when you could smell the nuts roasting... my goodness.

                                                          Also, Hellman's mayo, Gulden's brown mustard, A-1 sauce, Maille whole grain mustard and red wine vinegar, Victoria Vodka sauce, Dragone ricotta, Cabot butter, Cabot hunter's style cheddar cheese, Wasa sourdough crisps, Polaner All Fruit seedless raspberry, Goya cornmeal in various grinds, Goya chickpeas, Ken's Steakhouse salad dressings (except for Lilly's Poppyseed), Cains Kosher Dill spears, and Genova tuna in oil.

                                                        2. Volvic water
                                                          King's Hawaiian bread
                                                          DeCecco pasta
                                                          Tamaki Gold rice
                                                          Martinelli's or Ralph's brand apple juice
                                                          Stonyfield Whole Fat yogurt
                                                          ditto on Best Foods Mayo

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                                            As someone pointed out earlier, this is supposed to be about slightly upscale brands, not just Hellman's, which everyone knows is the best (ate least in most areas of the country)!

                                                            Volvic water. Pellegrino or Perrier for sparkling,well chilled they really hit the spot.

                                                            L'Estornell extra virgin organic olive oil. really great flavor w/out bitterness.

                                                            Pomi chopped tomatoes, or strained. Cannot make tomato sauce w/out this. Italian imported brand, which usually retails for around $2/box. Completely different than american tomatoes.

                                                            Real parmigiano-reggiano cheese imported from Italy. Completely different than anything here. It should smell nicely through the plastic wrap and not be too dry when you buy it. Store in a sealed plastic bag.

                                                            Cafe Bustelo coffee. rich sweet flavor and not expensive.

                                                            organic valley unsalted butter. any organic 2% milk. all of the bad stuff they give the cows is trapped in the fat. we possibly ingest it b/c it's trapped in the fat, better to buy organic for anything fatty. ie. the butter is a must.

                                                            De Cecco pasta. again, completely different than Barilla or any american brand.

                                                            imported risotto rice in the small burlap bag. i buy vialone nano and it says it's imported from manicaretti, no real brand name. i get it at whole foods. the risotto rice in the plastic jars is crap.

                                                            1. re: fara

                                                              Organic Valley anything. Especially eggnog this time of year.

                                                              1. re: fara

                                                                +1 on Pomi. Was waiting for someone to mention it.

                                                              2. re: OCAnn

                                                                king's sweetbread
                                                                dole raisins
                                                                best foods mayo
                                                                envy apples

                                                              3. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, no other parmesan will do, ever.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. Ditto Hellman's/Best Foods, but NOT the "Lite".
                                                                  Smucker's crunchy PB in the East, Laura Scudder West.
                                                                  Niman Ranch bacon in CA, Mayo Country-Style in TN. Both dry-cured.
                                                                  Progresso tomatoes; don't care for Muir Glen's flavor.
                                                                  Trader Joe's Dijon mustard.
                                                                  De Checco EVOO; yes, it's a cheap brand, but I love the peppery flavor.
                                                                  Contadina tomato sauce.
                                                                  El Pato tomato sauce.
                                                                  Pico Pica Hot Sauce and Taco Sauce.
                                                                  Peet's French roast coffee.
                                                                  Swanson's chicken broth.
                                                                  Classico pasta sauces.
                                                                  Peck Wicker's Missouri Barbecuing Sauce...but since it seems no longer to exist, I guess I can live without it. I just don't like to.
                                                                  .and Tabasco, of course.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                                                    have you tried Woody's brand sauce--sort of a vinegar toned BBq sauce in a concentrate. Not sugary at all. Thick and goey. A bit spicey.

                                                                    Link: http://farawayfoods.com/cookinsauce.html

                                                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                                                      I LOVE Woody's Cook-In Sauce! It's great on burgers and if you mix some in meatloaf, it makes it more moist...

                                                                      1. re: chrisonli

                                                                        Thanks, guys, but that won't do it; Wicker's was in no way thick, but a peppery, vinegary red fluid to be mopped on rather than spread. There was nothing either thick or sweet about it anywhere. What I miss most about it is this: there's a place in Nashville called Hog Heaven that has a white BBQ sauce - they serve it with chicken, but I've found it's fab with pork. Anyway, I discovered that by blending mayonnaise and buttermilk and then mixing in just the right amount of Wicker's, I could duplicate that sauce almost perfectly...and then Wicker's went off the market. So now I have to get that sauce on trips to Nashville at the rate of $5 or so per quart, and try to schlep it back in jars without breaking or leaking...

                                                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                                                          soryy you can't find your favorite sauce anymore, especially since you were creating something ELSE with it! :(

                                                                          maybe some n'ville hound will take pity on you...I know lots of the food bloggers do product exchanges, maybe you could start one at your blog for those N'ville delicasies you dream about?....

                                                                          good luck!

                                                                    2. re: Will Owen

                                                                      I'm a southern girl and i can't live without grits. My mom graciously sends me bags of "dixie lily quick-cookin' white grits" all the way from florida to new zealand. ain't nothing better!

                                                                    3. Tapatio Hot Sauce

                                                                      1. b
                                                                        Beatrice Nichols aka BeaN

                                                                        What a fun topic! I've also found it really useful - I'm going to seek out some of these things to try them.

                                                                        I really have few brand loyalties. On some products, though, I will choose the preferred brand over any other if it is available, without regard to price.

                                                                        Breakstone's sour cream is a favorite.

                                                                        Catch a Fire brand mango chutney – I buy this by the case and give it as a gift. It’s fantastic paired with the pulled pork that Spousal Unit makes in the Big Green Egg and it’s killer paired with rare duck. The two of us eat most of the 12 oz jar as soon as we open it. I’m down to my last jar.

                                                                        Diet Coke (I don't drink much soda any more, but Diet Pepsi seems like a huge sacrifice to taste for me).

                                                                        Publix supermarket brand premium line of ice cream in coffee flavor is something that I crave.

                                                                        If the pasta must be dry, it must be Barilla.

                                                                        Brimstone Originals brand habanero pepper jelly. This is made by someone that I work with, although I did not know that until after I had bought it several times. It’s another item that I buy by the case and give as gifts. It’s like hell’s fire on your tongue made sweet and yummy. I’ve used it as a glaze on pork and duck and in a great coleslaw dressing (that I’ve never been able to replicate). Right now I’m working on a recipe that uses it as a glaze on nectarines. Wish me luck!

                                                                        Until very recently, Kraft Seven Seas Green Goddess (GG) salad dressing was the dressing of choice. I actually wrote a long whiny post about having trouble finding it and how fixated I was on it. On the odd occasion that I saw it at the grocery, I bought it in multiples. Then I discovered Annie's brand Goddess Dressing (AG). Yes, I’ve tried the Annie’s Green Goddess, too, but I’ve been bewitched by the AG. Alas, I have FOUR bottles of the Kraft GG stowed away in the pantry.

                                                                        When I asked my husband what brands I’m fixed on (without regard to brands of what or for what purpose), he responded without hesitation: “Asche Grossbardt, Carrera y Carrera and Margot de Taxco.” Extra points are due to anyone who knows what they are without doing any digging.


                                                                        1. My must haves are --

                                                                          Claude's Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Sauce
                                                                          Golden Eagle Table Syrup
                                                                          Community Coffee - New Orleans blend with chicory
                                                                          Hormel Black Label Bacon
                                                                          Dr. Pepper

                                                                          1. La Semeuse coffee
                                                                            Whole Foods - canola mayonnaise, sparkling water
                                                                            Maille mustards

                                                                            1. Lurpak Danish Butter
                                                                              Land O' Lakes Butter
                                                                              President Butter
                                                                              Fage Greek Yogurt
                                                                              Kitchen Basics Chicken Stock
                                                                              Genova Tuna
                                                                              Real brand Peanut Butter
                                                                              Girard's White Balsamic dressing

                                                                              Cracker Barrel (best amongst store brand cheddar)
                                                                              Philly Cream Cheese (best amongst store brand cream cheese)
                                                                              Hellman's had a citrus dressing that was scrummy but it seems to be off the market now in the Chicago area

                                                                              I like Maille and Grey Poupon but a French friend recently brought a mustard from Provence with Provencal herbs in it that is heavenly! Even the jar is pretty. The French and their food...sigh...

                                                                              1. Like others, I will have to say Hellmans (Best Foods) mayo and Heinz ketcup. I'll also add Silk vanilla soy milk and Huy Fong (rooster) srichacha sauce.

                                                                                1. >>>"What brand foods can you not live without?"

                                                                                  All of 'em.

                                                                                  1. Busha Browne's Authentic Jerk Seasoning.

                                                                                    grilled salmon
                                                                                    roast whole chicken
                                                                                    grilled chicken basted with raspbery vinegrette
                                                                                    in soups
                                                                                    in eggs
                                                                                    pork chops
                                                                                    tri tip

                                                                                    very economical paste. A little goes a loooong way.

                                                                                    1. What's surprising is how it seems a lot of the responses have been (for the most part) to condiments and peanut butter. Odd. Ok, let me take a crack.

                                                                                      -Cake mix- ONLY Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe. (You'd be surprised how many professional bakeries actually use this due to consistent result!)

                                                                                      Pop Tarts-when I was younger, my brothers ate these like crazy and generic or other brands just never got it right.

                                                                                      Oreos- I dare you to tell me any other chocolate sandwich cookie is better (and not Hydrox)

                                                                                      Blue Bell Ice Cream- best flavors, creamy and yummy. Shame you can't get it everywhere.

                                                                                      Hershey's chocolate syrup- all others just don't get that taste.


                                                                                      Off the top of my head, stuff I wouldn't usually/ ever buy a brand name of (so I guess opposite of this post!) would be:

                                                                                      -Frozen veggies
                                                                                      -dry pasta
                                                                                      -raw meats (chicken from Kroger is the same as chicken from Tyson, but 5 bucks cheaper per pack)
                                                                                      -Milk/ cream (unless were talking the whole, fresh milk you can get at specialty stores)

                                                                                      Theres tons more on both sides, just too tired to think of them.

                                                                                      1. All of them. Real food doesn't have brands. You should be able to shop for meats, fish, veggies, fruits, dairy, grains and bread without worrying about a brand. Same for spices and pantry staples. It is more important to pick the right type of flour than the brand.

                                                                                        If you insist, I suppose I could agree that cake mixes are convenient, and I am a diet soda addict -- Pepsi, to be exact. But if you are a slave to brands, you are probably eating too much processed food.

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                          RGC, may I politely and sincerely ask, doesn't the diet Pepsi (addiction in your words) cancel out the benefits to you of what you call real foods?

                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                            Of course it does. But my Italian grandma taught me to cook, and the only thing that ever came out of a can in her house was coffee, tuna, or, in the dead of winter, after all her own tomatoes were gone, whole tomatoes. Diet sodas, and I drink other brands, trust me, are a bad habit -- kind of like smoking. I did not pick that habit up from Grandma. In fact, she would have told me to worry about cancer.

                                                                                            My comment was really intented to say " Kraft brand, or Acme brand is not something you can't live without," and it wasn't intended as a health comment . I was just admitting that I am not immune to this phenomenon. When you move to another country, as you have, don't you find that brands are different? Heck, when I moved across the country, the brands of food were different. You just have to learn to go with the flow, and it is a good idea to cook your own fresh meat, fish, veggies etc. anyway, isn't it?

                                                                                            1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                              I'm the same way, RGC. I generally a pretty healthy eater and don't do much by way of processed foods, but I do fiend for diet Canada Dry brand ginger ale (it is available, decently gingery and doesn't taste overly sweet). I think it's a habit that stuck after high school, when my cross country coach in high school banned sugar soda drinking by team members, but not diet sodas. These days, I actually can't drink regular sodas any more at all because I so hate that sticky film that develops in your mouth, afterwards.

                                                                                              Diet soda is probably my worst food habit and one I'm trying to reform myself of by drinking more water or, when I really must have my fizz, seltzer. But boy. I really like it.

                                                                                              My choice: Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale.

                                                                                              (Sam, none of us is perfect!)

                                                                                          2. King Arthur AP Flour, Wondra Flour, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, Girards Champagne Vinaigrette, Better than Bouillon, SAF instant yeast, Ghirardelli Semi sweet choco-chips, Trader Joes Unburied Treasure (OMG...it's the crack of junk-foods....) PAM cooking spray, Gulden's Brown Mustard, Heinz ORGANIC Ketchup(So-o-o much better than reg. Heinz....) Brown Cow Cream-Top Yogurt, Odwalla Tangerine Juice, (seasonally available and maybe only West Coast?) Daisy Sour Cream (could be WC only, too) or Horizon Sour Cream, OREOS!!!, Drake's Cakes, Fun Topic,....Adam

                                                                                            1. Kikkoman shoyu, Mitsukan rice vinegar, Golden Boy fish sauce, Tabasco, Kikuya fukujinzuke, Van Camp's sardines, Royco m'chuzi mix, Heinz white vinegar, San Jorge maiz tierno, Carrefour vinaigre de vin rouge, Lee Kum Kee hoisin, Quaker oats, Koda Brothers rice, ...

                                                                                              ... and Safeway house brands with SuperSaver prices!

                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                See, now I can't really understand why Heinz white vinegar is any different from Cento, or some other brand. This is what I find perplexing. I understand Tobasco, because hot sauces do have different tastes and formulas, as does ketchup, but I could find suitable alternatives for most things.

                                                                                                1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                                  It is the best I can get here in Colombia.

                                                                                                2. Pommery Mustard in the earthen crock with the cork top.

                                                                                                  Kikoman's and Yamasa shoyu -- the latter does NOT hold up for cooking, but is an interesting finishing shoyu with certain dishes.

                                                                                                  Noilly Pratt white vermouth. GREAT cooking wine!

                                                                                                  Maldon sea salt - for finishing. I love the little salt pyramids!

                                                                                                  Kadoya sesame oil

                                                                                                  Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce

                                                                                                  A-1 Steak Sauce (aka "brown sauce")

                                                                                                  C&H sugars, including 10X confectioner's

                                                                                                  Szagred sweet and hot Hungarian paprikas

                                                                                                  La Chinata (Spanish) smoked paprka

                                                                                                  The Gathering of Saffron (brand) Spanish saffron

                                                                                                  These are some of the things that HAVE to be these brands in my kitchen. Sorry I can't offer any pasta sauces and such. Because of food allergies (well, that and being a control freak), I make most everything from scratch.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                    No one else has mentioned it, so I'm going to chip in with HP Sauce (both original and their chicken and rib version - the latter is called "fruity" sauce in Britain, but for some reason, didn't sell so well in North America with that name...). Great flavour, and far superior to A-1, IMHO (slightly thicker, so it adheres better to what you are eating it with). Try it on eggs for breakfast, or melt a nice sharp cheddar on toast, and top with HP. You'll never go back to ketchup again (of course, for things that do need ketchup, there is only Heinz.

                                                                                                  2. B&M Baked Beans (but then are there any other brands?) Also B&M Brown Bread.

                                                                                                    1. My husband has one sacred brand: Hellman's mayo. No substitutions.

                                                                                                      I'm : Open Pit BBQ sauce, Quaker oatmeal and cornmeal; Kikkoman soy sauce.
                                                                                                      Otherwise, I'm open to sales, new options.

                                                                                                      1. I see several references to Muir Glen as the favorite canned tomatoes. Have any of you tried San Marzano brand? Pretty frickin awesome.

                                                                                                        Louisiana Gold Green Sauce is one I'd prefer not to live without, but I can't always find it in stock.

                                                                                                        1. Like many other posters on this thread, I can't live without Heinz Ketchup. As I stated on another thread, it's the only thing keeping me alive! My list also includes:
                                                                                                          Canada Dry Ginger Ale
                                                                                                          Heinz Vegetarian Beans
                                                                                                          Bestfoods (Hellman's) Mayonnaise, although Heinz is really good too, but I've never seen it except in foil packets
                                                                                                          Lea & Perrins Wocestershire Sauce
                                                                                                          Lay's Potato Chips (Jay's was my brand as a kid in Chicago)
                                                                                                          Lawry's Season Salt
                                                                                                          Yoplait Extra Thick Key Lime Pie Yogurt

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                                                                            I have seen that yogurt and will try it now.

                                                                                                          2. Bertmans stadium mustard
                                                                                                            Tony Packos hot pickles
                                                                                                            Tabasco standard hot sauce
                                                                                                            King Arthur flour
                                                                                                            Penzeys 2x vanilla extract
                                                                                                            Schwebels Jewish rye bread(hangs head in shame)
                                                                                                            8 O'Clock brown bag coffee

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                                                              Williams' Chili Seasoning. One-way ticket to midweek chili happiness.

                                                                                                              1. re: Samalcious

                                                                                                                Curious... is it available in CA? What's in it that makes it so good? (Or is it one of those annoying products that just lists "spices" as the ingredient?) Adam

                                                                                                                1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                                  Actually "chili peppers and other spices." ;)
                                                                                                                  Dunno about CA, it's made near KCK in Lenexa KS.
                                                                                                                  They have an online store at williamsfoods.com.

                                                                                                            2. Only two things really jump out at me:

                                                                                                              Tabasco chipotle hot sauce and Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes

                                                                                                              1. Diet Pepsi
                                                                                                                Grey Poupon
                                                                                                                Ruffino Chianti
                                                                                                                Roman Meal

                                                                                                                1. Isigny Ste. Mere butter for toast, especially the kind with coarse salt flecks. Many European brands are somehow more complex in flavor than most American, though there are exceptions: Vermont Butter Co., Organic Valley pastured, probably others I'm forgetting. I'm sorry but LoL is just kind of bland to my taste, though it's great for baking, with reliable moisture content.
                                                                                                                  King Arthur flour
                                                                                                                  French's brown mustard (I wish they still made dijon without "honey.")
                                                                                                                  C&H sugars, Billington's for demerara
                                                                                                                  Maruhon for sesame paste or oil
                                                                                                                  Spectrum nut oils
                                                                                                                  Marukan rice vinegar
                                                                                                                  Breyer's ice cream, to avoid corn syrup, to which I'm allergic, though I really prefer to make it at home. But, Breyer's is the standby in a pinch. Haagen Dazs or B&J for a few specific flavors.
                                                                                                                  Cantare ricotta (made in San Diego) or Organic Valley

                                                                                                                  I'd love to hear of favorite brands of jam. I started making my own each summer b/c the good ones were getting terribly expensive, and even moderately priced ones had the consistency of jello! Bleh.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                                    I'm replying to my own post, hmmm...

                                                                                                                    but I forgot Diamond crystal kosher salt. Someone here recommended it last year at Thanksgiving, and I will never buy Morton's again. Far superior product!

                                                                                                                  2. Diet Coke
                                                                                                                    Heinz ketchup
                                                                                                                    Duke's mayo (if you can find it; mostly southern)
                                                                                                                    Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce
                                                                                                                    Crystal hot sauce
                                                                                                                    Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese
                                                                                                                    Sam Adams beer
                                                                                                                    Green Mountain Coffee Roasters coffee
                                                                                                                    Pellegrino water
                                                                                                                    French's yellow mustard
                                                                                                                    Pepperidge Farm cocoanut cake

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. We eat tons of cereal at our house. In most cases we'll happily save money by eating store brands, but I have to have my real Cheerios.

                                                                                                                      1. Annie's Woodstock dressing
                                                                                                                        Whole Foods 365 brand pita chips
                                                                                                                        Safeway Select cookies
                                                                                                                        Mother's brand pink and white animal-cracker cookies (not for much longer!)
                                                                                                                        diet Sprite- no generic brand will do
                                                                                                                        Pillsbury crescent rolls and buttermilk biscuits...I just love them....

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. PASTENE - I love all of their products (but I think they are mostly NE)

                                                                                                                          - I like their pasta (they have a lot of shapes other brands don't carry)
                                                                                                                          - They have the BEST marinated artichokes
                                                                                                                          - Very good pickled products - olives, capers, and pepperocini
                                                                                                                          - Excellent canned tomatoes
                                                                                                                          - Good beans - never gummy or too salty
                                                                                                                          - They have good jarred pesto.

                                                                                                                          1. Branston Pickle
                                                                                                                            + Vienna Beef hot dogs
                                                                                                                            + Mama Sita's spice mixes
                                                                                                                            All worth the cumulative $10.50.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Kholvaitar

                                                                                                                                I've been scrolling down this and not feeling terribly moved by anything someone said - but this! Non-Schweppes tonic just does not do.

                                                                                                                              2. I'll eat the generic brand of almost anything except for ketchup (Heinz) and mayo (Hellmans). Those are the only two things I am brand loyal to.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: phatty

                                                                                                                                  I'm with you on that. Hellmans for mayo - Heinz for tomato ketchup.

                                                                                                                                2. Diet Coke
                                                                                                                                  Best Foods Mayonnaise (not lite)
                                                                                                                                  Maille Dijon Mustard
                                                                                                                                  La Costena refried black beans
                                                                                                                                  Pepperidge Farm (in the blue bag) stuffing mix
                                                                                                                                  Fage Greek Yogurt

                                                                                                                                  1. Ranch Style beans!!!
                                                                                                                                    Anybody know what I'm talkin' about??

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Khatru

                                                                                                                                        Yep, got a can of 'em in the pantry. I may throw them into the 4 bean chili I'm making today.

                                                                                                                                        They're good with a big chunk of smoked sausage simmered in with the beans, too.

                                                                                                                                      2. Heinz ketchup Best Foods mayo and French's yellow mustard.Louisiana hot sauce .Peets dark French Roast coffee beans.C&H sugars.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                          Heinz ketchup (we have little packets in our car in case a restaurant we go to doesn't serve Heinz). Yes, we are ketchup snobs.

                                                                                                                                          Sriracha sauce
                                                                                                                                          Kraft mayo (I seem to be outnumbered here. lol!)
                                                                                                                                          Campbell's soup (I make my own, but when I've got a cold, nothing out shines Campbell's chicken noodles and/or tomato)
                                                                                                                                          Nabisco saltines (not the low-sodium, plain) give me salt!

                                                                                                                                        2. mrs. t's for frozen pierogies (fresh are obviously way better always).
                                                                                                                                          tuong ot sriracha - the others don't compare to the original sauce us amaericans know!
                                                                                                                                          cholula hot sauce

                                                                                                                                          1. Got to have Rotel Tomatoes - Original.

                                                                                                                                            1. Muir Glen catsup
                                                                                                                                              Lea and Perrin's Worcestershire sauce
                                                                                                                                              Yamasa soy sauce
                                                                                                                                              Best Foods mayonnaise
                                                                                                                                              Edmond Fallot mustard (green peppercorn)
                                                                                                                                              Guittard chocolate chips
                                                                                                                                              Claussen dill pickles
                                                                                                                                              Planter's peanuts
                                                                                                                                              Clover organic milk
                                                                                                                                              Prather Ranch beef
                                                                                                                                              Ortiz canned tuna

                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChervilGeorge

                                                                                                                                                I just bought my first bag of Guittard. I've been on a quest to find the "best" semi-sweet chips. Right now, the Lake Champlain Chocolate ones are winning. I wasn't impressed by the ones I bought from See's (surprised by this - thought those would be amazing).

                                                                                                                                                Also surprised by the fact, that second to the LCC chips are Hershey's semi-sweet. I like those better than the Ghirardelli ones from the grocery store and WAY better than the Nestlé's. Looking forward to trying the Guittard ones!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                  I have not tried the Lake Champlain Chocolate before but in my opinion, Guittard is far, far superior to Ghirardelli. I hope you enjoy them. Nestle's doesn't even come close.

                                                                                                                                                1. Starbucks French Roast coffee beans. Triscuits. (The original--none of the flavored or low-salt versions, please.) Mt. Vikos halloumi. Amy's refried beans. Amy's bean and cheese burritos (regular, not gluten free).