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What generic items are as good as brand names?

I have a few items which seem to taste the same no matter what the brand.

1.Tomato puree
3.Instant oatmeal

Anyone got any more?

Also can anyone really tell the difference between white and brown eggs - I never in my life heard there was supposed to be a difference until I came to live in the U.S.

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  1. Brown eggs are laid by a breed of chickens known as a Rhode Island red. The yolk is a little bolder yellow on a brown egg, but they have always baked and cooked the same.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kelli2006

      oooh brown eggs are a richer darker yolk and a deeper flavor. we raised chickens for a long time when i was growing up, and we always wanted the brown eggs, the white ones didn't have nearly as much flavor.

    2. DEPENDS WHERE YOU LIVE. i'm in mass. sometimes a store brand is as good as a name brand because it IS the same as a name brand. ex. Stop and Shop store brand plain yoghurt tastes the same as(is made by) Columbo yoghurt (a Boston manufacturer).
      that practice is called 'Private labelling'.

      1. cottage cheese
        vegetable oil
        10x sugar
        tomato paste (not sure I agree on the puree)

        1. I agree about the milk but generic sugar is not something I will ever buy on purpose, it is made from beet sugar adn dies not cook the same way. Cottage cheese varies greatly from producer to producer, the sweetness and saltiness of tomato puree and paste can vary greatly. No way instant oatmeal is coming into my home so, yeah I'll concede the milk and cooking oil.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Candy

            That is interesting about the 10x sugar-- I will have to check next time I'm at the store. I always by Domino's but have done the generic 10x with no discernible diff. This may also depend on what your generic brand is-- I'm sure some are better than others. I still hold with the tomato paste-- whoever tastes it on its own anyway? I guess this is just something that IMO makes very little difference to what your cooking-- can't remember the last recipe I made that called for more than 1 T of paste (puree is a different story since it often stands alone in sauces and such). Yeah, people claim cottage cheeses taste different but I guess I just don't get (or care about) the subtleties there (whereas I do about yogurt-- just a personal thing). We might all be surprised if we did a blind testing of some of these things-- generic v. name-brand-- I'm just not that confident in the abilities of my taste buds to know the difference. Personally, I think we're sucked in by packaging and marketing on a lot of things...

            1. re: Procrastibaker

              actually i like the local generic brand of canned tomatoes better than the name brand.. imo all of it depends on your personal tastes, so no one brand is "better" than another

          2. Milk was a somewhat recent topic with several of us having a favourite brand: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/321085

            Not all milk is created equal.

            1. flour and granulated sugar are processed and bagged according to federal standards; generic and name-brands are exactly the same.

              brown eggs are local eggs for me, so tend to be fresher.

              standard oil, i use canola, and buy what's on sale -- i can discern no difference. same with dried beans

              canned tomatoes vary widely, but i always buy san marzano, which are the most consistent.

              i don't really buy any processed foods, so can't add much there.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I'm guessing that you haven't tried many different brands of San Marzanos if you think they're consistent. For my money, Escalon's 6-in-1, Bella Rosa, or Cristina brands are not only far more consistent, they're much better tasting.

              2. Milk is very,very different if you have a good dairy in the area. And don't get me started on brown eggs. They are the same as white;the difference comes in with what the chicken eats and under what conditions they lay. If you want better eggs look for uncaged as a general rule. People raved about the baked goods I made and I am known as the non cook in the family. It turned out to be the eggs. The items with good, fresh eggs made a totally different finished product.

                I guess this thread goes back to what makes a chowhound. I am discerning in many of the items listed above. If you are picky about baked goods you can tell the differences between flour brands, especially when you are making delicate pastries or family pastas that have been made for years. I often can't believe that people can't tell the difference between coke and pepsi or store brand ice cream versus a great ice cream, but as indicated above, we all have our areas of personal expertise and preference. This will make me think twice before automatically putting down someone who thinks The Olive garden has fine Italian food!

                1 Reply
                1. re: fryrose

                  there is no comparing great ice cream to store brands, its apples and oranges. cheap brands usually don't even taste like ice cream... and coke vs pepsi? totally different tastes

                2. oil, sour cream, cream cheese, veggie oil, cottage cheese, mozzarella, cream, eggs

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yumcha

                    Absolutely disagree on mozz. The differences in flavor, mouth feel, and melting characteristics are tremendous. Get yourself a block each of Grande, Polly-O, Tillamook, Assoluti!, Stella, Saputo, Sorrento, Kraft, Wally-World, and a few store brands and do a side-by-side taste test if you don't believe me. And with fresh mozz, the differences are even greater.

                  2. Mayonnaise. I think Safeway is actually better than Hellman's.