Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Battle of the Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup

In this edition of "Cheap Rip Off", I wanted to put to test three different condensed chicken noodle soups. A good while back, a running buddy of mine told me about the benefits of having a can of chicken noodle soup for lunch before going out on a long run to prevent cramping up. That is about the only time (and when I'm sick) that I eat a can of the stuff. So today it's a battle of the condensed chicken noodle soups, the original (Campbell's) VS Best Yet (cheap rip off brand #1) VS Clover Valley (cheap rip off brand #2).

Campbell's Soup - 10.75 oz, $0.89 - 60 calories per serving, 2 grams fat, sodium 890
Clover Valley - 10.5 oz, $0.79 - 60 calories per serving, 2 grams fat, sodium 680
Best Yet - 10.5 oz, $0.50, 60 calories per serving, 1.5 grams fat, sodium 900

Just to let you know, each can has 2.5 servings per can, how you can split a little can of soup between 2.5 people is beyond me. I usually just eat a can when I'm eating the soup. Also, Clover Valley has the least amount of sodium at 680, will this make a difference in taste? (I guess we'll see). Also, I was surprised that Campbell's soup is 10.75 ounces while all the others were 10.5 ounces, that's a plus in my book.

As you can see, the Campbell's and Best Yet brands have pull top openings while Clover Valley doesn't. A reader pointed out to me that the cans with pull top openings have a shorter shelf life, but that doesn't make a difference to me because I won't be buying the soup and letting it sit in my pantry for 2 years anyway, the convenience of the pull top opening is a big plus in my book.

After opening each can, it appears that the Campbell's brand has more noodles in it's product. But from doing other reviews, I know that looks can be deceiving.

I followed the directions to the tee for all three cans. All directions were the same with each one stating that you have to add 1 can of water to the soup and cook. Now I know people will say that you shouldn't add an entire can of water to the soup, but to be fair in my review I wanted to follow what the directions stated. One thing I could tell right off the bat was that the Campbell's soup have more chicken cubes in it than the other brands, which is a good thing in my book.

The Taste Tests:

Clover Valley:

The Clover Valley brand was the blandest of the bunch, maybe it was because it had the least amount of sodium of the three, but when comparing it to the other two, it was very bland with hardly any flavor at all. I counted about 5 pieces of chicken cubes in this soup. Overall, a very bland tasting soup.

Best Yet:

I found the Best Yet brand to have a thicker consistency than the other 2 brands. The broth was less watery. Like the Clover Valley brand I only counted about 5 pieces of chicken cubes in the soup. While it had more taste than the Clover Valley brand, the taste was still lacking. Okay, but not great.


Wow, right off the bat, I could tell what the other 2 brands were lacking... Taste!! The Campbell's brand had much more of a "chicken" flavor than the other 2 brand's bland tasting soup. Also, the Campbell's brand had about 12 pieces of chicken cubes in the soup, more than double of the other brand's. The better tasting soup probably had something to do with having extra chicken in the soup.

The Verdict:

As you can see from my empty bowl, the Campbell's brand was the winner in this challenge. While it was the most expensive brand (87 cents), it was the tastiest and had more chicken than the other two combined. I really didn't think there would be a difference in the soups, but when compared side by side, Campbell's is the best tasting soup that I tried. Best Yet came in second, it was more thicker than Campbell's but had less taste. The Clover Valley came in last with a bland tasting soup, which probably had something to do with having the least amount of sodium.

So in this case, the original is the best!

1st - Campbell's
2nd - Best Yet
3rd - Clover Valley

The Cheap Rip Off Condensed Chicken Noodle Champion: Campbell's!

One side note, I know it's hard to see, but look at the can of Best Yet soup. It shows a picture of a soup with carrots and lots of chicken, but what you get is a soup with no carrots and hardly any chicken... talk about a rip off!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Battle Of The Beef Ravioli

For the first edition of "Cheap Rip Off", I decided to go with three different brands of Beef Ravioli. Chef Boyardee (The Original) VS. Best Yet (cheap rip off) VS. Great Value (cheap rip off). I can't remember the last time I ever ate any type of pasta products in a can, I used to eat them a lot when I was a kid, but that was a long time ago. So I figured this would be a great way to start Cheap Rip Off, by judging something I had no opinion on either way.

Chef Boyardee - $1.00 - 8g fat, sodium 900, 240 calories (local supermarket)

Best Yet - $0.89 - 7g fat, sodium 1110, 220 calories (local supermarket)
Good Value - $.073, sodium 1050, 240 calories (Wal-Mart)

The first thing, right off the bat, is opening the cans. As you can see, Chef Boyardee is the only product with a "pull top" lid. The other two rip off brands require you to use a can opener, not a big deal, but a pull top lid is much more convenient than using a can opener.

After opening each can, the Best Yet brand looked to be the thickest of the bunch, there was obviously a lot less sauce than the other two brands (which could be a good or bad thing). The Chef Boyardee was the sauciest.

When pouring the cans into the pots, the Chef Boyardee brand came out easily without having to use a spoon. The Great Value can poured the product out half way and then I had to use a spoon to get the other half out. The Best Yet product would not come out of the can on it's own so I had to use a spoon to get it out. It was probably because the Best Yet was thicker than the other two and could not slide out of the can easily.

The Taste Tests:

I poured each brand of Beef Ravioli into my Tweety bowls and started the test. By the way, I cooked each product in it's own pot, and made sure to use different spoons to stir the product while cooking to assure that there was no cross contamination.

Chef Boyardee:
Like I said earlier, this one was the "sauciest" of the products. Tastes just like it did when I ate it as a kid. This brand's Ravioli stays more together than the other brands. The Boyardee brand hada slight aftertaste that wasn't too pleasant. The Chef Boyardee brand had the least amount of raviolis in it (only 11). When you finish all the ravioli you are left with a big dish of sauce.

Great Value:
Less saucy than the Boyardee brand, but still saucier than Best Yet. A little saltier than the other brands. Very similar in taste to the Boyardee brand but without the slight aftertaste. The Raviolis did tend to break apart a little bit more than the Boyardee brand. After eating the bowl you are left with a tiny bit of sauce. 13 Raviolis were in this can.

Best Yet:
Very dryish compared to the other two, hardly any sauce at all. This brand had a completely different taste than the other two (not in a good way). It was a very harsh taste. Honestly couldn't eat more than 3 or 4 bites of this brand. Raviolis broke up a lot while cooking this brand. This one gave you the most raviolis (14), but that does you no good if it's horrible. This was one nasty can of Raviolis.

The Verdict:

As you can see from what's left in the bowls, the Great Value brand is the winner. Not only is it the cheapest (73 cents), but it tasted the best. I thought for sure that Boyardee would have tasted the best, but surprisingly the Wal-Mart Great Value brand won the taste test hands down. Great Value did a great job ripping off the Chef, it made it's product cheaper and better tasting than the original, it really tastes great (well, great for canned raviolis). The Boyardee brand came in second because of the slight aftertaste it had compared to the Great Value. Third place was the Best Yet brand, this one was horrible. So it goes to show you that in the world of Cheap Rip Offs, sometimes the Rip Off is better than the original!

The Cheap Rip Off Beef Ravioli Champion: Great Value!

1st - Great Value (Wal-Mart)
2nd - Chef Boyardee
3rd - Best Yet