HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Cooks Illustrated Taste Test

I have been a Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen Fan for 7 years and I read their magazine from cover to cover and almost know most of the winners from their taste tests. I remembered them naming Land Of Lake's hot chocolate as their top winner a few years ago and I just looked today on their website and their list completely changed! Not only is their previous winner is no longer #1, they moved the Land of Lake's hot chocolate to the Not Recommended list! What changed? I just thought this was an interesting find....anyone ever run into these sort of inconsistencies with CI?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oh heck yes. They changed their recommendation on garlic presses, for another example. But to be fair, Consumer Reports retests stuff frequently too, and the winners don't always repeat.

    1. They restest their taste test. Sometimes the brand is no longer available or something has changed in the formulation. Maybe they've run out of ideas? lol

      1. Is it an inconsistency or do they go back and retest the products after a certain length of time? If that's the case, then they are doing it right. Manufacturers change their products over time.

        I tried Land of Lake's hot chocolate once - it was actually greasy which is not a quality that I look for in hot chocolate.

        1 Reply
        1. re: 512window

          I agree - That stuck out in my mind because I tried the hot chocolate and didn't think it was good at all when it was #1. That's good that they retest their previously tested food products.

        2. They also tweak and fiddle with their recipes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sr44

            "They also tweak and fiddle with their recipes."

            Which I find to be a positive thing. We are always learning new things about food preparation or discovering new ingredients. ATK reacts to these finds and tweaks recipes based on this information. I do it at home with my own recipes. My chili recipe has evolved over the years as I learn about different cooking methods and ingredients. What I thought was definitive last years may not be this year.

          2. In fairness, brands change their recipes and may not be as good anymore. Or, a new brand comes out that is better. I don't see an issue with it. They do this with the equipment as well. A couple of years ago the Kitchen Aid food processor was the number one. It no longer is because they changed the design and it's not as good. That's what makes them trustworthy.

            1. I really don't think it is an inconsistency. LOL may have used real sugar in their formula when ATK first rated it as their winner and now it uses HFCS or some kind of artificial sweetener. I'm not saying that is the case, I am just giving a hypothetical example of what happens in the food industry. It is very smart business to go back and retest on the behalf of ATK as food companies are always tweaking their recipes. I would actually find disfavor with ATK if they did NOT go back and reevaluate their decisions.

              1. They fairly regularly re-test stuff. Recently I read one of their reviews of some whisks and in the writeup it said something like "surprisingly, [brand whatever]'s whisk, which was #1 in our last test, fared quite poorly in this roundup.

                This is a good thing, I think. It shows that their methodology evolves and that they're willing to admit that they got something wrong on a previous iteration.

                7 Replies
                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  On a recent show, they no longer rated the Pyrex measuring cup as their #1 in that category because Pyrex had changed the design. ATK would not be a "test kitchen" if they did not go back and reevaluate their choices. Why do some people see this as a sign of inconsistency?

                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    I wish I'd seen that show. I just bought a new set of Pyrex cups to replace my 10 year old set which I'd worn the markings off of, and I can't stand the new form factor. The annoying part for me is that I had a place in the cabinet reserved for those measuring cups, and the new ones are wider -- they don't fit quite right into the little space.

                    Pyrex cups had been the same as far back as I can remember (early '80s, helping my mother in the kitchen as a child). Why would the company change the design now? Seems like a very strange move.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      I remember them not liking the fact that the first cup on the 2-cup model was "painted" red and made it near to impossible to see the liquid being measured in the cup. They even went so far as suggesting finding the older ones at flea markets, etc., rather than purchasing these.

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Hm, I didn't even notice that. Haven't actually used 'em yet. Wonderful things to look forward to :-(

                        You have a timeless product and you change it decades into the game? Didn't Pyrex learn anything from New Coke?

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          Yes, I have to scratch my head about that one.

                      2. re: davis_sq_pro

                        Just FYI there was a followup on that and they said Pyrex reversed their decision and has returned to manufacturing the original design. Backlash, perhaps?