Week two in the launch of our Brand vs. Generic debates. Each Tuesday we discuss a various type of food product and whether people should buy name brand or generic/store brand when they shop for that food. Today? Pasta.
Pro’s of Generic: Cheaper. Obviously. Also, have you ever bought BAD boxed, dried pasta? I haven’t. I’ve probably bought every brand under the sun, and I can’t remember ever boiling some pasta then thinking, “huh, this pasta is terrible.” Never. I mean never. Pasta is about the most basic ingredients you can get, flour, eggs, water, salt. Anyone can make dried pasta and anyone can make it taste pretty much just fine. As an added bonus, many generic and store brands now offer whole wheat pasta or gluten free pastas so that you no longer necessarily need to gravitate towards the name brands for those options.
Cons of Generic: One of the cons of generic can be less variety. Even though they now offer whole wheat and high fiber versions, the brand names generally still are cranking out a lot more different cuts of pasta, including more random and obscure ones that the generic brands don’t make. Let’s not discount thickness either. Certain brands may make a lasagna or a spaghetti that is too thick or thin for your liking, which may make you gravitate towards the name brand that makes it just the way you like it.Â A search of foodie boards and communities such as Chowhound will show you that there are some folks out there who think there is a big taste difference, advocating for specific brands like De Cecco. A thick, golden color is considered important for the “best” pasta flavor and some will argue only certain brands have that look.
Final Thoughts: For a food with ingredients so basic and cheap, it’s extremely hard to mess up dried pasta. If a pasta is made with durum semolina, which most are, it will hold up just fine when boiled. Honestly, for a food this simple to produce, if you’re paying any sort of mark-up for a name brand and you’re not hosting a dinner party for obsessive Italians, you’re probably an idiot and just wasting your money.Â On the other hand, plenty of the “name brand” pastas, while more expensive normally, are frequently on sale, with prices that will rival the name brand – for those of you embarrassed to be seen with a Safeway Select pasta box on your shelf.
So Good’s Verdict: Generic.
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