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Do you buy packaged food because you are addicted to that particular taste?

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I think that most of us have a strong preference for some food brands because no one else makes that food taste as good. For example, I rarely buy any cola drink but coke because it has a citrusy brightness which the other colas lack.

Similarly, I prefer Heinz ketchup because it has the best balance of sweetness and acid (vinegar).

My last one is A-1 sauce. I think it has a "raisiny" and anchovy taste that other steak sauces lack.

What surprises me is that in this age of spectrometers, you would think that competitors, having had their brains beaten out in the market place, would try to make their products virtual duplicates of the winning brands. But they don't.

Do you buy certain foods because only that one manufacturer makes them taste that unique way? What are they? And why do you prefer them?

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  1. I guess you mean brand specific or loyal? Hellmans mayo. Literally can not stand any other.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Goatjunky

      I have been using Kewpie for the past few months and have recently decided that I don't actually like it much. Just bought some Hellman's and tasting it again confirmed it for me - the Kewpie has an odd flavouriness that I find too much and even slightly offputting at times/with certain foods. The Hellmans just tastes creamy and mayo-y. Back to Hellmans!

      1. re: montrealeater

        It could be the msg in the kewpie?

        1. re: jgg13

          Is the Hellman's MSG free? I know Kewpie has it, it's weird because 99% of the time I prefer the foodstuff *with* MSG.

          1. re: montrealeater

            MSG causes the taste receptors in your mouth to become more sensitive so this makes it taste better to you. Unfortunately it's also strongly linked to the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
            I do not know exactly what products contain it, I only watched a program on Free Speech TV that explained that people don't really have MSG allergies because we unknowingly eat it every single day in fast and processed foods. Unfortunately I LOVE mayo on sandwiches. lol

            1. re: neilmcginnis

              Wrong. Msg stimulates the glutamate taste buds, because its, you know, glutamate. If it was linked to those this so would tomatoes, cheese, fermented foods, etc

              1. re: neilmcginnis

                Could you provide a reputable citation regarding the link between MSG and Alzheimers please? TIA.

              2. re: montrealeater

                That's a good way of spinning it at I hadn't considered. I've always heard kewpie described as the mayo which has msg so I've always assumed the other major brands do not.

                Personally I wish they would start if they don't already

            2. re: montrealeater

              Kewpie is not a substitute for Hellmans. Nor vice versa.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Well, I use mayo on sandwiches and I used the Kewpie for the same thing I used the Hellman's for. I'm always doing it wrong.

                1. re: montrealeater

                  I don't find them to be drop in replacements but there's a lot of overlap. Kewpie is sweeter, somewhere in between mayo and miracle whip

              2. re: montrealeater

                I use Hellman's but Kraft recently won a Serious Eats taste test.

                1. re: wincountrygirl

                  Which is why my next mayo purchase is Kraft, assuming I remember. Iirc though he said the northeastern folks still preferred Helmans, or something along those lines so we shall see

            3. Mexican Coke and Campbell's chicken noodle soup are the first that immediately spring to mind.

              4 Replies
              1. re: c oliver

                Making home made chicken soup just ruined Campbells for me, and pretty much all other canned soups. Except tomato. I still enjoy canned tomato soup now and then.

                1. re: monavano

                  For me, they're two entirely different beasts :) When they reduced the salt (temporarily) a few years ago, it put me off it. I make it with milk instead of water and have been known to carry it with me when we spend time in Brazil where I can't get it. It's from my childhood so totally irrational.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Just yesterday I was in the market and suddenly had a craving for Campbell's Tomato soup. I bought a four pack of cans and a quart of milk, and went straight home and made some to eat, before pickling up six dozen quail eggs in spiced beet juice for a party in a few weeks.

                2. re: c oliver

                  Mexican coke is just because they use real sugar and use glass bottles instead of plastic, that's why it tastes better. Campbell's chicken noodle soup you are on your own defending that pick : )

                3. Cholula hot sauce. One with the wood top. Not too hot, more pepper flavor, not too much vinegar. Goes on everything....

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wellbaked

                    Sriracha is the only hot sauce I know that goes on everything.. Are you suggesting this is better than Sriracha? I have not tried it but I am assuming you are mistaken. : )

                    1. re: neilmcginnis

                      Cholula is great-original and chipotle varieties are always in my cabinet.

                  2. As an aside on the mass spectrometer idea...

                    A mass spectrometer can tell you the distribution of molecules by mass. It doesn't tell you how those molecules were combined and processed, or where they came from. Something as simple as a fruit juice will have multiple complex molecules in it, and with complex organic chemistry, I'm not sure how useful simply knowing the mass of the molecule is.

                    The other problem is that even if you made an exact duplicate of a well known brand, you're still fighting the fact that you don't have brand recognition. The most effective strategy would be doing a budget version, but that assumes you can make money selling it cheaper than a major competitor while producing as good a product.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                      It is not that easy to identify the ingredients even with high resolution mass spectrometers. You may able to identity the molecules, but they can come come from numerous numbers of sources. So basically, you have to identify an unique/signature molecule. It is just not that easy.

                      < with complex organic chemistry, I'm not sure how useful simply knowing the mass of the molecule is. >

                      You can probably do a MS/MS experiment on the a mass, but even if you identify the molecule, so what? Let's say you identify critic acid in the foods, many things have critic acids.

                      1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                        Dear Tastesgoodwhatisit,

                        I knew I'd get in trouble slinging around a scientific instrument term. It actually sounded like I knew what it was. I'm properly chastised. But come on, in this day and age of molecular chemistry-biology-gastronomy-forensics (take your pick), can't scientists pretty much tell you Chapter and Verse about what is in some batch of food? I find it unbelievable that they can't nail down to the last mole (a term that comes back to me from high school chemistry) what something is made of?

                        1. re: gfr1111

                          That's exactly what I was saying. Even with the most modern of scientific techniques and instruments you *can't* do it.

                          (Disclaimer - I'm not a chemist, but I am a research scientist in a physical science)

                          To put it concisely, you can't, in general, look at the end point of a series of chemical reactions and be able to uniquely determine how they were produced and from what starting ingredients.

                          In cooking, a list of the chemicals that are in the product does not tell you uniquely what that product was made from, and how it was made. And mixing together a list of chemicals will not, except in the most simple case, reproduce the final result.

                          As an aside - you can get a very, very misleading view of how scientific analysis works when you see it portrayed in the media. Usually it's a lot harder, a lot more complicated, takes a lot longer, and tells you a lot less information that you would assume by watching something like CSI, or seeing news clips on TV.

                          Keep in mind that science does not currently accurately know how to build a healthy diet from component chemicals, or even to tell what combination of foods is the most healthy. We know something, definitely, but not enough to say we completely understand it.

                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                            I *am* a chemist, and in a job where we do a lot of trace element analysis (which is not the same as *chemical* analysis, which is something you'd want for food). The complexity in even a "clean" sample is amazing. You think- hey, it's just a few ions in water, right? How hard could it be? It turns out: amazingly (read: expensively) hard. I can't imagine how you'd even begin to analyse for all the molecular components of a food.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              Okay, Tastegoodwhatis it,

                              I think I get it. Coal and diamonds are made out of carbon but are quite different in how they behave and what they look like because of the processes they went through to reach their present forms. Am I getting close?

                              Thanks.

                              1. re: gfr1111

                                Even if you could do, it's not as important as you think. For example, I was told by the manufacturer's rep that Heinz ketchup and Hunt's ketchup are almost identical, except the Heinz has more vinegar and Hunts has more sweetener. Heinz is made for the northeast market, and Hunts for the south. That's probably as much analyzing as you have to do.

                        2. I don't drink coke very often, but when I do want it, I want Coca Cola. In term of mayo, I prefer Kewpie, but other brands are passable. I strongly prefer Koon Chun soy sauces.

                          1. Cheetos, Your Honor. (Hangs head in shame and remorse.)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mwhitmore

                              My husband would agree. For me Doritos....only the original flavor though.

                            2. Based on a quick cruise through my pantry: White cheddar Cheez-its, agree on Cholula and Coke (but prefer Maine Root ginger), Maille for Dijon, Del-Dixie for pickle chips for burgers, Keillers for orange marmalade, Bob's steakhouse for ranch, Cardini's for Caesar, Cape Cod 40% potato chips, Morning Star Farms (soy) buffalo wings, and, with Tater Tots, Melinda's habanero ketchup.

                              1. Nong Shim instant ramen noodles.

                                I buy it by the box. I reckon because it's got the perfect ratio of MSG to spiciness for me.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Palladium

                                  Yes, Nong Shim, me too. My other favourite instant noodle is a Thai brand that does a bunch of different flavours - their shrimp flavour is the only one in silver packaging - this (the shrimp) stuff is even better than Nong Shim, imo, but it's hard to get - I sometimes get my parents to send me a bunch of it from the Asian grocer in their west coast town. If anyone can ID this brand for me I'd appreciate it (I can't read Thai, and am not even sure if this brand has an English ID).

                                  1. re: montrealeater

                                    Does it have red and yellow lettering that says "Mama"? Comes with three "flavour" packets (i.e., three ways of adding MSG and oil?)
                                    Because that is my late-night-snack-noodle.

                                2. I use Zesty Italian dressing in my potato salad. And no, I can't substitute that with a homemade vinaigrette. Zesty Italian has just the right texture, tang, and chunks of who-knows-what.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                    Hi, Kitchengardengal,
                                    What brand of Zesty Italian do you use? I'd like to try it.
                                    Thanks.

                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                      I love Ken's Zesty Italian. Which one do you use?

                                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                                        It's just Kraft, I think. Same ol' same ol'.
                                        I have used others, including home made, but they're not quite it. I marinate the cooked potatoes overnight in the Zesty Italian, and add the mayo, eggs, relish, celery seed and mustard the next day.

                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                          Same deal with Good Seasons mix. They have regular and another which is called something like Zesty. It mainly has more garlic. That's what I thought you were talking about!

                                      2. I can honestly say that I have almost no brand loyalty whatsoever. Not just for food, but for most everything in life. Hell, the desk I'm sitting at as I type this has a PC and a Mac on it.

                                        I don't buy a lot of packaged/prepared foods, but when I do, I'm more likely to have my choices guided by ingredient lists, price, and whim. Mayo and mustard are prime examples. I'll buy first those options that contain no sugar, then those that are on sale and/or, quite often, that I have never tasted before. I guess I don't use enough of either that there is a very great impact on the taste. Moreover, at the end of the day, I'd always prefer to make my own.

                                        I relish variety in tastes. On the occasion that I want a soda, I'll go to the Mexican grocery in town. I might get a Pepsi, a Coke, or even a Fanta, depending upon mood or madness. Same with booze. It would suck ass if I had to go back to the days when I only had two gins to choose from for my pre-dinner cocktail (then again, in those days, I never had to run the risk of getting a glass of chilled vodka when I asked for a Martini, so I guess it wasn't all bad).

                                        Edit: In the "exception that proves the rule" category, I will confess that Kalona Supernatural Sour Cream is such a unique product that I will go outta my way to get it.

                                        1. Used to be true for Kraft Mac and Cheese in the blue box--but last two times it tasted like chemicals. A childhood favorite lost forever.

                                          1. I'm not so much addicted to them. Just my personal preference over some other brands. I like Hellmans mayo, Heinz ketchup, Daisy sour cream, grey poupon, Coke, cholula, Oreos, and Skippy creamy peanut butter.

                                            1. Duke's mayo, Daisy sour cream, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Premium saltines.

                                              1. Most of these sort of products contain MSG which literally makes the food taste better so maybe that is the flavor you are missing in the foods you don't like as much. lol

                                                1. Heinz ketchup and Hellamn's Mayo. Tried others but those are the two for me.

                                                  Cholula and Huy Fong Sriracha hot sauce are the only hot sauces I buy, except for Tabasco, but I only use that rarely when I want heat, but no flavor. Oh, and for wings I only buy Trappy's Red Devil cayenne pepper sauce. Although I do have dozens of hot sauces. I get bottles sent all the time from PR companies, or in goody bags after judging a competition.

                                                  Soda isn't my favorite thing to drink. I don't like the carbonation. But recently I tried San Pellegrino citrus sodas and they are excellent. Low carbonation, the lemon, lime, and grapefruit aren't sweet. The blood orange is sweet, but very tasty. I now keep them around and have one every now and then. The other sodas I like are Moxie, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, and Sioux City Sarsparilla, and Blenheim ginger ale (spicy version) but I only buy them once in a few years.

                                                  1. I'm in Coketown it would be outright wrong to be seen with Pepsi. I do have an aunt fearful of running out of Pepsi; she carries a stockpile when traveling.
                                                    My husband loves Campbell's chicken noodle soup with a sleeve of brand name saltines. He loves homemade as well. He also has a preferred BBQ sauce as an easy grab for sauce.
                                                    Tabasco, Siracha and Cohula are staples for different reasons.
                                                    Past those we have preferences not loyal thou.

                                                    1. There was a nice thread on it this a while back http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618963. I don't buy many packaged products but I do have a few products which I'm loyal to - dark cola drinks are always Diet Coke, always Grey Poupon Dijon.

                                                      1. Agree on Heinz and A-1. And Diet Coke - no other diet cola beverage will do and I heave a big sigh when restaurants ask if Pepsi is okay. Hellman's definitely - for cooking (chicken salad, etc.) I can use any brand, but on a sandwich it's gotta be the real thing. Whoever said Cheetos, don't hang your head in shame - life it proudly and declare that you will not eat imitation brand cheez curls.

                                                        The best example I can think of is Oreos. Lots of people make fake Oreos, and some of them are darned tasty - but they are not Oreos.

                                                        Why is this turning into a discussion about possible effects of ingesting MSG?

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                          There are only two types of threads. Those about tipping, and those about MSG.

                                                          And you're spot on about fake oreos. As a kid I loathed when the hydrox or whatever would show up.

                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                            You are so wrong. There are also threads about gluten.

                                                            1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                              How much does one tip on gluten?

                                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                                What about TJ's?
                                                                As for me when I want canned ravioli, only Chef Borardee will do! (LOL)

                                                            2. re: jgg13

                                                              I think you might find yourself on the minority side when it comes to Oreo vs the late, great Hydrox.

                                                              1. re: Steve Green

                                                                Hydrox was so weird to me. Tasted more of sugar than chocolate.

                                                              2. re: jgg13

                                                                Oreos were actually fake Hydrox, which were introduced in 1908, and the original chocolate sandwich cookie.
                                                                It wasn't until 1912 that Oreos came about.
                                                                I grew up in the 60s eating Hydrox, and don't recall even having an Oreo.

                                                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                  I had forgotten that factoid. Doesn't mean I liked them :)

                                                                2. re: jgg13

                                                                  .

                                                              3. Another one for me-chili garlic sauce has to be Huy Fong in the little plastic jar. It's not in all stores and I've often just bought whatever kind they have and it always goes to waste. And no, Sriracha will not do, I don't even really like the stuff but the chili garlic sauce is addicting.

                                                                1. Duke's Mayonnaise ~ Lee & Perrins Worcestershire, always and forever.