Pop quiz, Money College Readers. (Yeah, I know we're not in school yet, but work with me here.) What's the best kind of dip for your tortilla chip? Sure, salsa can be sublime, and queso is quite compelling. But, in Store Brand Scorecard's opinion, nothing's greater than guacamole. (Ideally) chock full of fresh avocados and seasoned with lime juice, it's the perfect dip for summer, or a great topper for your fresh-grilled burger if you're tired of the cheese-tomato-lettuce-onion combo.
Now I remember a time when you had to make guacamole yourself or order it at a restaurant. But nowadays, you can find the stuff in the produce section in your grocery store. What great times we live in.
But just because it's accessible doesn't mean it's necessarily worth buying. And as any guac lover knows, the stuff can go from green to brown after just a few too many minutes of room temperature exposure. So Store Brand Scorecard gleefully tried out four brands -- one national brand and three store brand varieties -- to find out which one was most worth its green. All products were purchased on Aug. 1 in the Chicago area; prices are subject to change.
Brand Name: Wholly Guacamole (Fresherized Foods)
Cost: $4.99 at Super Target; $5.29 at a Chicago-area grocery store
Size: 14 oz. (a pair of 7 oz. packages)
Nutritional Facts: (for 2 tablespoons) 60 calories (45 from fat), 5 grams of fat (7% recommended daily value), 90 milligrams of sodium (4% recommended daily value), 3 grams of total carbohydrates (1% recommended daily value)
Taste: This is the good stuff. Ultra-fresh, creamy avocados loaded up with lime juice. I nearly polished an entire packet on my own.
The Big Box Store: Super Target
Brand Name: Archer Farms
Size: 8 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for 2 tablespoons) 45 calories (40 from fat), 4.5 grams of fat (6% recommended daily value), 110 milligrams of sodium (4% recommended daily value), 3 grams of total carbohydrates (1% recommended daily value)
Taste: I've had good guacamole, I've had great guacamole, I've had bad guacamole, but I've never had boring guacamole. Then I had Archer Farms' guacamole. This, inexplicably, is one dull dip in desperate need of some zest.
The Grocery Store: Dominick's (a subsidiary of Safeway. The company, number 52 on the Fortune 500 list, is the owner and operator of such grocery retailers as Tom Thumb and its namesake store).
Brand Name: Signature Cafe
Size: 14 oz. (a pair of 7 oz. packages)
Nutritional Facts: (for 2 tablespoons) 50 calories (40 from fat), 5 grams of total fat (7% of recommended daily value), 95 milligrams of sodium (4% of recommended daily value), 2 grams of total carbohydrates (1% of recommended daily value)
Taste: I sadly sacrificed two whole chips for this gross mess. It tastes like bad avocado dip and nothing like the real deal.
The Mini Market: Trader Joe's
Brand Name: Trader Jose's Avocado's Number Guacamole
Size: 16 oz. (a pair of 8 oz. bags)
Nutritional Facts: (for 2 tablespoons) 50 calories (35 from fat), 4 grams of total fat (6% recommended daily value), 75 milligrams of sodium (3% recommended daily value), 2 grams of total carbohydrate (1% recommended daily value)
Taste: And I thought Wholly Guacamole was fresh; Trader Joe's (excuse me, Jose's) variety is every bit as fresh and creamy and fantastic as the main brand ... if not a teensy bit tastier.
Greatest Value: Dominick's Signature Cafe brand of guacamole is single handedly the worst of its kind I've ever had -- and it's one of the most expensive. On a scale of 0 to 10, this brand's value score is a 1. Archer Farms isn't so fair either, and it is a dollar less than Dominick's. But then you only get 8 ounces instead of 14. Value score: 2.
Wholly Guacamole is the costliest, but its also one of the richest. Value score: 7. But Holy Guacamole, Trader Joe's is the tops. It's one of the greatest tasting guacamole, if not the greatest, amongst the store brands. It offers up the most guacamole (an entire pound). It's also got less salt and fat than the other brands. And, dear friends, it's also the cheapest by far. For all these reasons, Store Brand Scorecard bequeaths the brand the very esteemed, and rare, score of 10.
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.
Best guacamole? We rank the house brands