My wife and I were in Costco recently and came across the big tubs of laundry detergent. I moved instinctively towards the store-brand Kirkland, but then I got The Look. “Umm… no. We are going to spend the extra 4 bucks and buy the Tide.” Tip for the soon to be married – pick your battles wisely . 4 bucks is not worth it. We got the name-brand Bounce dryer sheets too. (Why we even need dryer sheets at all is beyond me)
This came to mind today as I was flipping through a free trial issue of Consumer Reports magazine I received. They compared 24 laundry detergents, and guess which was a CR Best Buy and beat out Tide? Yep, Kirkland Signature. Which got me to thinking, what products are we okay with ‘going generic’ with, and which are we not? Any why? It’s actually pretty funny, and doesn’t really make much sense at times.
- Drugs. Why there are so many different brand names for Ibuprofen astounds me. Yes, Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin may have nice ads and pretty boxes, but who the heck cares? As long as the active ingredients and amounts are the same, it doesn’t matter. We also buy generics for Tylenol (Acetominophen), Benadryl (Diphenhydramimine), and Nyquil (Combo of stuff). Ask any doctor, it’s all the same, just get over it so the placebo effect doesn’t cost you money.
- Eggs. Umm… it’s eggs? Although the organic stuff does taste better.
- Aluminum Foil, Sandwich Bags, Paper plates, etc. It’s all disposable anyways, even if there is a slight difference in quality. If you like thick foil just buy the ‘heavy duty’ generic version.
- Staples like sugar and flour. I just have a hard time believing there is much of a difference.
- Apple Juice. For some reason apple juice always tastes good, no matter the brand?
- Peanut Butter. I think JIF smells better, but they taste about the same.
- Cannied Veggies like Corn. Again, there may be some quality difference, but I can’t tell.
- Pasta. I swear I can’t tell the difference between Safeway pasta and Barilla or whatever. She likes the pretty boxes. Recently, one of the other cheaper brands (I forget the name) started packaging their pasta in boxes too. Of course now we can buy that brand. Yay.
- Cereal. Sometimes we argue over Rice Crispies vs. Bob’s Crisped Rice, or Cheerios vs. Oat-E-Os or whatever. I do like having actual boxes though instead of just bags.
- Fruit Cocktail. You know the stuff in the cans. Ever wonder why there is only like 1 cherry in the whole can? The proportions of each fruit in fruit cocktail is government-mandated [pdf]! But the wife swears each fruit piece is still smaller and/or of lesser quality in the generic version. Maybe, but… so?
- Orange Juice – For some reason, many cheaper brands of OJ (like Safeway) taste really bad, more bitter. I usually just buy whatever is on sale between Minute Maid and Tropicana.
- Toilet Paper – I am sorry but that cheap Scott brand stuff from Costco is utter crap. We love the Charmin or Charmin Ultra. It’s thicker so you use less anyways.
- Pop Tarts – This is just me. I don’t like generic Pop-Tarts, or at least the ones I’ve tried.
- Coffee. She’s gotta have the Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Kona Blend. At least it’s cheaper than going to Starbucks.
For all the frugalites out there, I know that sometimes brand names cost less after coupons or whatever, this is more of an overall fun comparison. Again, I’m fully aware much of our reasoning doesn’t make sense and even conflicts at times. But I bet we aren’t the only people who think like this. Am I right?
By Jonathan Ping | Frugal Living | 2/24/06, 10:19pm