Best grape jelly? We rank the house brands

Store Brand Scorecard for grape jellySome weeks back, Store Brand Scorecard took on creamy peanut butter for its weekly taste/price grocery store brand challenge, to see, once and for all, if the enigmatic "Choosy Moms" were right in declaring The J.M Smucker Company's Jif creamy peanut butter the best (according, suspiciously, to the Jif label).

Well, Store Brand Scorecard called out those choosy moms for not being choosier and selecting another peanut butter brand that tasted nearly as good while costing a lot less. Kids, you've got to love them moms (for helping you get into college, and for their loving nagging), but, as I'm sure you know, they're not always right.

The winner of that challenge, it turned out, was Aldi's Peanut Delight. And since Store Brand Scorecard's been scarfing down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all summer long, it got to thinking, would Aldi's grape jelly also be better than The Smucker Company's Smucker's grape jelly? For that matter, would it also be better than Walmart's Great Value and Supervalu's Jewel brands, which were also sampled for the peanut butter competition?

So the four brands face off again, this time in the grape jelly category. Read on to find out which jelly is the best for your belly, and for your budget.

All products were purchased the week of Sept. 7 at Chicago-area stores. Prices are subject to change.

Brand Name:
Smucker's (The J.M Smucker Company)
Cost: $1.42 at Walmart; $2.49 at Chicago-area grocery store
Size: 18 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for one tablespoon) 50 calories (0 from fat), 0 grams of total fat (0% of recommended daily value), 5 milligrams of sodium (0% of recommended daily value), 13 grams of total carbohydrates (4% of recommended daily value)
Taste: Sugar swamps the taste buds on first taste, but the actual grape flavor makes a modest hello at the end.

The Big Box Store:
Walmart
Brand Name: Great Value
Cost: $1.32
Size: 18 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for one tablespoon) 50 calories (0 from fat), 0 grams of total fat (0% of recommended daily value), 5 milligrams of sodium (0% of recommended daily value), 13 grams of total carbohydrates (4% of recommended daily value)
Taste: Same nutritional facts as Smucker's, and practically an identical taste.

The Grocery Store: Jewel-Osco (a subsidiary of Supervalu. Number 47 on the Fortune 500 list, Supervalu is parent to grocery retailers Shop 'n Save, Albertsons and others.)
Brand Name: Jewel
Cost: $1.69
Size: 18 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for one tablespoon) 50 calories (0 from fat), 0 grams of total fat (0% of recommended daily value), 5 milligrams of sodium (0% of recommended daily value), 13 grams of total carbohydrates (4% of recommended daily value)
Taste: Another copycat, in terms of nutritional facts, but the grape taste, while still modest, is slightly more pronounced than Smucker's and Great Value.

The Mini Market: Aldi
Brand Name: Berryhill
Cost: $1.39
Size: 32 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (for one tablespoon) 50 calories (0 from fat), 0 grams of total fat (0% of recommended daily value), 5 milligrams of sodium (0% of recommended daily value), 13 grams of total carbohydrates (4% of recommended daily value)
Taste: Now here's an interesting lesson in don't judge a product by its label. The nutritional facts are identical to all the other brands, but the flavor is totally different -- nowhere near as sweet, with a whole lot more grapey goodness. It was as if the grapes were literally smashed in the jar.

Greatest Value: Let's take on the clones first. Smucker's, Walmart's Great Value and Jewel-Osco's Jewel brands practically taste the same and they come in the same size jars. Where they differ is price, and there things get complicated. Jewel brand is more expensive than Smucker's sold at Walmart, but much less expensive than Smucker's sold at Jewel. Since Jewel has a slightly fruitier taste, however, it gets the edge here.

On a scale of 0 to 10, Smucker's gets a value score of 5, Jewel a score of 6, and Walmart's Great Value, the least expensive of the three, a score of 7.

Their challenger, Aldi, while sharing the same nutritional facts, tastes drastically different. The grape flavor is significantly stronger, but unfortunately the jelly is not as sweet. That said, the other three brands didn't have nearly enough grape flavor and were all a little too sweet.

Factor in how much jelly you get at Aldi --32 oz., versus the 18 oz. from the other brands -- plus the low price ($1.39, just 7 cents more), and you've got an undisputed champion. Aldi's Berryhill brand is the winner of this challenge with a value score of 9. Now excuse me as I make a Peanut Delight and Berryhill PBJ.

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 Levy to try, to moneycollege@walletpop.

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