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

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.