Best honey barbecue sauce? We grill the house brands

One of the best parts of writing these Store Brand Scorecard blogs for Money College is reading all the comments. Everyone's got a valuable opinion about his or her favorite or best deal. But it's not too often that so many people speak up on behalf of one single brand that wasn't even mentioned in an article.

But that's exactly what happened a month ago when I compared KC Masterpiece original barbecue sauce, which I panned, to three store brands, with Walmart winning based on the taste/price combo. There were a few KC Masterpiece defenders amongst the critics, but by and large a surprising amount of people--dozens in fact--all said the same thing: that Sweet Baby Ray's, a brand of sauce made in Chicago, is the best.

Even if that were the case, would Sweet Baby Ray's be good enough to justify its higher cost over store brand sauces? Based on the comments, popular consensus suggests yes, but I wanted to find out for myself.

And so by popular demand I've put together another barbecue sauce challenge, this one centered around honey barbecue sauce, with champ Walmart and popular favorite Sweet Baby Ray's facing off against Aldi, Supervalu and each other.

Brand Name: Sweet Baby Ray's
Cost:
$1.50 at Walmart, $1.79 at a Chicago-area grocery store
Size: 18 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for two tablespoons) 70 calories (0 from fat), 300 milligrams of sodium (12% recommended daily value), 17 grams of total carbohydrates (6% recommended daily value)
Taste: BBQ lovers, I understand your passion. Sweet Baby Ray's is the finest grocery store-bought sauce to touch these lips: sweet, succulent, with a bit of spice that heats up for the aftertaste. Really great stuff.

The Big Box Store: Walmart
Brand Name:
Great Value
Cost:
85 cents
Size: 18 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for two tablespoons) 50 calories (0 from fat), 360 milligrams of sodium (15% recommended daily value), 13 grams of total carbohydrates (4% recommended daily value)
Taste: Too sweet for me, but thankfully the heat balances out the flavor. Like the original flavor that won last month's test, this one's a keeper.


The Grocery Store: Jewel-Osco (a Supervalu store. Supervalu, no. 47 on the Fortune 500 list, also owns and operates Shop n' Save, Albertsons and other grocery retail chains).
Brand Name: Jewel
Cost:
$1.79
Size: 18 ounces
Nutritional Facts: (for two tablespoons) 70 calories (0 from fat), 300 milligrams of sodium (12% recommended daily value), 18 grams of total carbohydrates (6% recommended daily value)
Taste: It's got the same nutritional-facts profile as Sweet Baby Ray's, which oftentimes means it tastes exactly the same. But this one is still a clear second place: respectable, but not Sweet Baby Ray's.

The Mini Market: Aldi
Brand Name: Tate's

Cost: 89 cents
Size: 18 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for two tablespoons) 50 calories (0 from fat), 360 milligrams of sodium (15% recommended daily value), 13 grams of total carbohydrates (4% recommended daily value)
Taste: And I thought KC Masterpiece was bad; imagine what barbecue flavored soda pop would taste like, and you've got Tate's. In other words, way too sugary and artificial tasting.

Greatest Value: I don't care how cheap Aldi's brand is, that sauce is gross. There's no way it will ever greet my meat. On a scale of 0 to 10, it gets a value score of 3.

Jewel's sauce is second best, but in the price category, its dead last, equally priced with Sweet Baby Ray's at the grocery, more expensive than Sweet Baby Ray's at Walmart. Why pay more for second best? Value score: 6.

Walmart won the original barbecue sauce contest because it's a good sauce for a great price. But Sweet Baby Ray's is so good it's frankly worth more than it costs. Walmart's sauce gets a value score of 8, and Sweet Baby Ray's a score of 9, making Sweet Baby Ray's the winner of this challenge.

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.

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