“Me?  A snob?  Ok, I am a bit of a brand snob.  I like brands I like and I will pay more for them.”

Am I a food snob?

This was me until a few weeks ago.  I watched a few episodes of the BBC’s Eat Well for Less on TV, and thought I would put myself to the test. Let’s go back a step. On the telly programme the presenters, Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin try to help families with bad food shopping and eating habits save money by swapping out branded foods & challenging their brand perceptions. But to make it harder to guess what has been swapped and what hasn’t, they sometimes swap rubbish foods for better quality more expensive foods (but worth the extra), but most of the time, they swap out branded foods for non-branded foods.
I didn’t think I would get caught.  There are some things I have tried non-branded that are just awful, so I assume all unbranded things are awful, but from what I see on this programme, it seems that some unbranded or discount store brands actually taste better!

Baked Beans Blind Tasting

It was time to see whether I could detect what I thought was my favourite. I am not a massive baked beans fan. I didn’t grow up on them like most British kids – and I like to eat them cold, which is sacrilege in the UK.  But I thought my favourite was by far Heinz Beanz.  I remember eating some 7p baked beans at my friend, Matthew’s house years ago, and I thought they were disgusting.  I could tell the difference, right? So this was the test:

4 tins of beans

I bought 4 tins of beans, including my favourite Heinz. If I had to judge them by brands alone, this would have been the order I would have put them in:

Marked the tins at the bottom

I had to mark each tin at the bottom before I pulled the labels off, so we’d know which one is which.

Pulled labels off

I pulled all the labels off, so we were left with bare tins, then shuffled them around so I would really not know which one is which.

Tins were opened

Tins were opened and for the first time, we realised how we ‘eat with our eyes’. Just looking at them, we were starting to guess which one is which. I don’t really like the sauce, so I was already favouring the one top right, before tasting them.

The tasting

This is how we tested them.  We decanted some into smaller bowls, and warmed them up.  I would taste both hot and cold, but Tim tasted hot only, as cold baked beans sounded awful to him.

The verdict

The winner was unanimous:  number 1 top right. This was the one without too much sauce.  Second was top left. It had had a lot of sauce, but once you stirred it, it wasn’t quite so saucy.
The interesting thing was that Number 1 was fantastic, but Number 2 wasn’t too far behind.  They were streaks ahead of Number 3 and Number 4.

The big reveal – which baked beans were best?

We lifted up the tins to reveal the brands.  We were both shocked! The very clear winner was Tesco:
  1. Tesco posh brand: 70p per tin
  2. Tesco no-name brand: 24p per tin
  3. Heinz (although I very nearly put it last!): 75p
  4. Waitrose no-name brand 35p

Watch the video

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What this means… and is it the end?

This means I am a food snob! … who will be changing the error of my ways.  But this is not over yet. We need to expand the test further, so next time I will be testing Tesco Posh against Sainsbury and Aldi no-name brands.  Let’s see who the real winner is.

Am I a changed person?

Short answer: yes. Long answer: I will still read food labels.  I am a firm believer that half our ailments come from the foods we eat, because we eat all kinds of crap hidden in foods. My body will quickly tell me if something contains certain preservatives and colourants as I start coughing immediately after I eat them. But if 2 foods are equally good from an ingredients list, I am definitely going to be trying more cheaper brands – and I will NOT be lured by pretty labels and preconceptions.