Friday, January 8, 2010

Battle of the Brands

For most of my life I have been a brand shopper. I don't think it's intentional. I think that I, like most people, just did it without thinking. I knew what I liked and I bought it. I still do to some extent. But it's only recently that I've bothered to sit down and ask myself what it is that I like about one brand or another. And I honestly don't know for a lot of things.

Coke - I grew up in the south. Every carbonated soft drink under the sun is a coke to us! Yes, I do like Coca-Cola Classic. And occasionally, I will crave it (usually it must be accompanied by a Quarter Pounder with Cheese!). But for the most part, I will drink just about anything. I used to steer away from store brands, but now I know which ones are better than others.

Cheese - As a general rule, the little processed American cheese slices in my fridge have always been Kraft. That's just the way it was. And I know their commercials tell you that they're made with milk, rather than oil like a lot of other brands. And honestly, I don't really taste it. Then again, I'm far from a processed cheese connoisseur. And I've never really tried to compare them. It's just not that big a deal to me. The "real" cheeses are another story...

Cleaning Products - As long as it works, I will buy it. I'm not sold on any one brand of product, but I do tend toward a particular brand for a particular job. For instance, I like the lysol toilet cleaner. But I don't really like lysol for anything else. Instead, I will tend toward Scrubbing Bubbles. But for dishes, it's Dawn and Cascade. For laundry I really prefer Gain and Bounce. I have recently been able to branch out, but only slightly.

Frozen Foods - for the most part, I won't buy store brand frozen foods. With that lower price usually comes lower quality. Now canned foods or dry goods I could usually care less. But the frozen stuff I do notice a difference. In fact, I normally won't buy the "discount" brands either. There are always a few exceptions - frozen veggies are usually ok. Pizza depends on the store. But for dinners and most snack foods, I prefer the "good stuff" or to not have it at all.

Chicken Fingers - This is the food I have been the pickiest with. I the past few years I've stuck with Tyson. I really prefer the Tyson FINGERS (not nuggets or popcorn or whatever else) although I will concede to do the Chicken Fries if nothing else is available. But that was until recently. Growing up we shopped at Food World (which in case you didn't know basically doesn't exist anymore. It makes me sad). And we always got these chicken fingers called Top-Chik. They were torture as a kid because they weren't pre-cooked. You couldn't just toss them in the microwave for a minute and a half and be ready to eat. They had to bake in the oven (because we weren't allowed to use the fryer by ourselves) for something like 12-15 minutes. In case you've forgotten, when you're a hungry 8 year old, that is an eternity!) But they were very tasty. Even tastier than Tyson. And last week I found them at one of the few remaining Food Worlds. And my soul did a little happy dance. Jeff thought I was nuts until he tasted them. And they really are that good. And the best part? They're cheaper than Tyson! I may still get Tyson from time to time because I do most of my shopping at Publix and I'm lazy like that. But I'm telling you, these are worth a special trip!

Ice Cream - I am not particularly choosy about my ice cream. If given an unlimited budget I'd probably only buy Blue Bell with a sprinkling of Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry's for good measure. But since that isn't my life, I'll buy whatever. But my loving husband is a little strange to me. He actually PREFERS the store brand, especially in his favorite - Cookies and Cream. I don't know why, but he does. Like I said, I'll eat anything so I often indulge him, but that is one thing I'll never understand.

Clothes - I am not as bad as I used to be, but I'm still pretty much a brand shopper when it comes to clothing. It's not that I'm trying to be snooty, and it's not like I only buy designer brands. There was one thing that my mother always told me when we bought clothes, especially as I got older. And that was that I should always be willing to pay for quality. For the most part I have been. I generally avoid buying my clothes at Wal-Mart or the like. Now I will admit a lot of their stuff has gotten better. And if given a choice, I would rather go to Target. But I just don't even think of those as actual wardrobe-buying options. A random t-shirt? sure. Socks? Why not! PJ's? Bring them on. But my "regular" clothes, and especially my "good" clothes are going to come from Belk or better!

Shoes - Shoes are one thing I have learned the hard way to always buy a name brand I love. Tennis Shoes are New Balance. Flip Flops are yellowbox. Heels are usually Nine West. Everything else - chances are I won't be wearing them very long or very often. I have yet to find a brand I love for my flat shoes, but the irony is that the cheaper ones usually do better for me. I haven't figured it out yet, but when I do I'll let you know.

Electronics - I'm not too picky here. Yes, I love my Mac. And my iPod. and my Blackberry. and my HP printer. But I'm not so sold that I would only ever buy these products again (ok, maybe on the iPod). TVs, DVD players, Stereos, Clocks, etc are all open for debate. Again, as long as they work and are in my budget, I'll take them!

Personal products - this is the one area where I generally refuse to compromise. Once I find something I love I stick with it. The only exceptions are things where I have a few different products I love and will alternate between those on the "approved" list. Deodorant is always Secret. Razors are always Venus. Shampoo is either Herbal Essences or Garnier. Shower Gel and Bubble Bath are Bath and Body Works. It all just makes my world a happier place!

Have I told you lately that I'm a little crazy?

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