Best Bacon Rematch! Can Oscar Mayer Smoke Four More Brands?

bacon rematch at score brand scorecardTo end the year Store Brand Scorecard is having a bacon battle. In the nine months of the column's existence, the comparison that elicited the most readers, comments and buzz was our review of bacon back in April. We thought we'd expand on that with a new taste test.

After trying Oscar Mayer, Walmart's Great Value, Jewel-Osco's (Supervalu's) Jewel brand and Aldi's Premium Pride, we concluded in April that Oscar Mayer bacon was by far the best, even if it did cost more than some store brands.

Today, we're pitting four other brands--Hormel's Black Label, Target's Market Pantry, Dominick's Safeway and Trader Joe's brand--against each other, with the most valuable bacon from this batch taking on Oscar Mayer in a battle for the ultimate bacon brand.You may disagree, and we welcome that, so feel free to sound off in the comments section below. All brands were purchased from Dec. 1-5 in the Chicago area. Prices are subject to change.

Brand Name: Hormel Black Label (Hormel Foods Corp.)
Cost: Sales price at SuperTarget $3.49 (typically $4.29); $6.99 at a Chicago-area grocery store
Size: 16 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (For two slices) 80 calories (60 from fat), 7 grams of fat (11% recommended daily value), 15 milligrams of cholesterol (5% recommended daily value), 330 milligrams of sodium (14% recommended daily value)
Taste: Super salty with a pleasing crunch, this bacon's got plenty of tasty meat to it.

The Big Box Store: SuperTarget
Brand Name: Market Pantry
Cost: Sales price at SuperTarget $3.49 (typically $4.44)
Size: 16 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (For two slices) 70 calories (50 from fat), 6 grams of fat (9% recommended daily value), 15 milligrams of cholesterol (5% recommended daily value), 290 milligrams of sodium (12% recommended daily value)
Taste: This bacon brand may allegedly have less fat than Hormel, but in the chewy slices we sampled, practically all we could taste was fat. Not tasty at all.

The Grocery Store: Dominick's (a Safeway store, operator of its namesake store, Tom Thumb and other grocery retailers. Safeway is number 52 on the Fortune 500 list.)
Brand Name: Safeway
Cost: $3.99
Size: 16 oz.
Nutritional Facts: (For two slices) 80 calories (50 from fat), 6 grams of fat (9% recommended daily value), 20 milligrams of cholesterol (7% recommended daily value), 300 milligrams of sodium (13% recommended daily value)
Taste: As a rule, we like our bacon to crisp up and Safeway's doesn't. But we were pleasantly surprised by how appetizing it was. The robust pork taste on our sampled strips packed a real punch, compensating for the brand's chewiness.

The Mini Market: Trader Joe's
Brand Name: Trader Joe's
Cost: $4.79
Size: 3.25 oz. (Equivalent of 12 oz. of uncooked bacon)
Nutritional Facts: (For three slices) 100 calories (70 from fat), 7 grams of fat (11% recommended daily value), 20 milligrams of cholesterol (5% recommended daily value), 470 milligrams of sodium (20% recommended daily value)
Taste: Unlike the other bacon brands, this one's already fully cooked, and has a unique, smoky, slightly apple-like taste to it. It's an interesting flavor, but ultimately it overwhelms the straight-up bacon taste we prefer.

Greatest Value (So Far): Market Pantry is dead last here with a value score of 1 (on a scale of 0 to 10). Trader Joe's bacon is decidedly different, and because it's pre-cooked quicker to prepare. But we didn't like it as much as Hormel and Dominick's, and it is pricey. Value score: 5.

Hormel's bacon is the way we like it -- crispy and salty. But Dominick's brand is cheaper, and ultimately, tastier. Hormel takes second place with a value score of 8. Dominick's is first in this round with a value score of 9.

But the bacon battle isn't over yet. We present a final battle between Safeway, the winner of this week's competition, and Oscar Mayer, the winner of our first bacon challenge in April. First, some updated stats for Oscar Mayer:

Brand Name: Oscar Mayer
Cost: $3.99 at SuperTarget; $6.99 at a Chicago-area grocery store
Nutritional Facts: (For two slices) 70 calories (50 from fat), 6 grams of fat (9% recommended daily value), 15 milligrams of cholesterol (5% recommended daily value), 290 milligrams of sodium (12% recommended daily value)
Taste: In April, we wrote that Oscar Mayer was, "crispy and crunchy, with just a hint of smokiness and the perfect amount of salt. This brand of bacon's going to be pretty tough to beat." Tasting it again eight months later, we've got to say that the flavor definitely holds up. This is some very good bacon.

The Ultimate Value: Here's the thing -- the Safeway brand of bacon tastes more like strips of ham than strips of bacon. That said, it's really good, so long as you're game for a different sort of taste.

Oscar Mayer bacon, on the other hand, is just what you'd expect, but it's everything great bacon should be -- crispy, salty, delicious. Making things more complicated is the price. Oscar Mayer bacon at Target is the same price as Safeway bacon, while Safeway bacon costs $3 less than Oscar Mayer bacon sold at Dominick's.

In the end, we recommend Oscar Mayer bacon if you're shopping at Target, Walmart or a SuperValu store, but if you're ever inside a Safeway, definitely buy the store brand bacon.

This is the final Store Brand Scorecard column for Money College. It will return next year in another form, with a few food reviews, but will expand to comparing other products.

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Jarvis

Is this a survey that includes the input from dozens, or more, of regular consumers? How about the folks who like chewy, thick, meaty bacon that acts like meat when you eat it? And the ones who like the interesting and sometimes surprising flavors that bacon can offer. Did they have any part in this survey? This sounds like a very small group who is either getting a bone from O M or they just want to get their rocks off to their opinion of O M being the best. Show us some numbers, otherwise this is no more than a biased, marketing based survey.

December 17 2012 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply