Best crescent rolls? We rank the house brands

I'm going to level with you people. Even though I write Store Brand Scorecard for Money College, I'm actually not in college. Sad, but true – I've been out of school for about four years now.

Anyway, when I was in college, I wasn't always so smart when it came to saving money and food preparation, not like you kids today. Take Lynne Wagner, a student at Tiffin University in Ohio. She wrote to Store Brand Scorecard to say that to save money, she and her friends often buy communal style meals to cook at home. Smart cookie, Lynne.

In her e-mail, Lynne went on to request that I test bake-'em-yourself crescent rolls. "One of our favorite sides is Pillsbury," she wrote. "Unfortunately, these are the priciest ones, but the few store brands we've tried are awful."


So by special request, Store Brand Scorecard picked up some Pillsbury crescent rolls and three store brand varieties – one from a big box store, a grocery store and a mini market, respectively – to see which brand provided the best value. And as much as I love that little Pillsbury Dough Boy, his precious crescent rolls didn't win out this time.

All products were purchased at Chicago-area stores in late May, so prices are subject to change. To ensure fairness, baking instructions were followed closely and the subject rolls were all baked in the center of a cookie sheet. And, as always, Store Brand Scorecard welcomes your feedback. If you have a comment, or if there's any particular product or food or beverage you want me to try out, e-mail me at moneycollege@walletpop.com or hit me up at twitter.com/pietlevy.

One more thing – these crescent rolls all in all were good. But what made them really, really good was baking them with a piece of milk chocolate in the middle to create pain au chocolat, or as us Americans say, chocolate croissants. C'est magnifique, and cheap to make, too.

Brand Name:
Pillsbury
Cost:
$1.97 at Super Target; $3.29 at a Chicago-area grocery store
Size: 8 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1 roll) 110 calories (60 from fat), 6 grams of total fat (10% recommended daily value), 2 grams of saturated fat (9% recommended daily value), 220 milligrams of sodium (9% recommended daily value), 11 grams of total carbohydrate (4% recommended daily value), 2 grams protein
Taste: Light, flaky, flavorful. Eating this roll fresh out of the oven brings me back to the pleasures of Thanksgiving dinner. Quite comforting.

The Big Box Store: Super Target
Brand Name:
Market Pantry
Cost: $1.77
Size: 8 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1 roll) 100 calories (50 from fat), 6 grams of total fat (9% recommended daily value), 2 grams of saturated fat (10% recommended daily value), 220 milligrams of sodium (9% recommended daily value), 11 grams of total carbohydrate (4% recommended daily value), 1 gram of protein
Taste: Without much flakiness, this brand falls short of crescent-quality territory. Basically, it tastes like a standard roll – fine, but not fabulous.

The Grocery Store: Jewel-Osco (a Supervalu store. Supervalu, number 47 on the Fortune 500 list this year, operates other grocery retailers including Albertsons and Save-A-Lot.
Brand Name: Jewel
Cost:
$1.99
Size: 8 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1 roll) 100 calories (50 from fat), 6 grams of total fat (9% recommended daily value), 2 grams of saturated fat (10% recommended daily value), 220 milligrams of sodium (9% recommended daily value), 11 grams of total carbohydrate (4% recommended daily value), 1 gram of protein
Taste: Now here's the flake I'm talking about, and the savory flavor too, that makes the crescent roll king. This roll rocks.

The Mini Market: Aldi
Brand Name: Buehler's

Cost: $1.49
Size: 8 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 1 roll) 100 calories (50 from fat), 6 grams of total fat (9% recommended daily value), 2 grams of saturated fat (9% recommended daily value), 220 milligrams of sodium (9% recommended daily value), 11 grams of total carbohydrate (4% recommended daily value), 2 grams of protein
Taste: Dense and doughy on the inside, it hangs heavy in the gut, with a faux buttery flavor. Still, the shell was crispy, and the taste acceptable.

Greatest Value: Aldi's Buehler's brand and Target's Market Pantry brand are the most affordable crescent rolls, but also the least satisfying. You won't be disappointed by their taste, and you'll be saving some change, but their taste isn't good enough to warrant a victory here. On a scale of 0 to 10, Market Pantry gets a 6 and Buehler's a 7.

Pillsbury rolls tasted the best,
but they're not good enough to justify the $3.29 price at Jewel-Osco, particularly when the Jewel brand, a close number two, costs $1.99. If Pillsbury cost significantly less at Super Target, I'd call a draw. But priced as it is, Pillsbury's gets a value score is an 8, while Jewel gets a value score of 9. That makes the Jewel brand the winner of this challenge.

So Lynne, you might want to check out the store brand at Save-a-Lot in Fostoria, some 13 miles from Tiffin. That store, like Jewel, is owned by Supervalu, so chances are it offers the same brand of crescent rolls that won here.

Piet Levy's Store Brand Scorecard tests a major label food product and three private-label equivalents to see which brand offers the best value for the price. It appears every Monday on Walletpop's Money College page. Send suggestions, including items you want Piet to try, to moneycollege@walletpop.com.

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