Archive: Taste Tests

Supermarket Salsa: Super Bowl-Worthy?

It's a big game, but somebody's gotta ignore it. That's my job this Sunday night, when two packs of big burly guys from up North throw a ball and pummel each other in the ground one last time to determine who's the baddest bunch of footballers of 2007. My husband often asserts that I'm highly un-American, (never been to Vegas or watched "Star Wars") and my refusal to watch the Super Bowl ("Come on, the commercials are great") is a highly unpatriotic act that worries him. Oh well. Although I don't actively participate and join the party around the telly, I do recognize that I have an important behind-the-scenes role to play -- as arbiter of snacks. The salsa contestants. (Kim O'Donnel) Four hours of grunting in front of a mega-HD, turbo surround-sound flat-screen television is hard work. I'm getting exhausted just thinking about it. Physical labor of this intensity...


By Kim ODonnel | January 30, 2008; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (54)

We Heart Chocolate

Yesterday, a small group of opinionated chocolate elves with resilient palates joined me in a blind taste test of eight Valentine's chocolate heart samplers. (Somebody's gotta do it.) The criteria: Assortments for the everyday lover - available nationally at the grocery store, the drug store or the mall. Nothing fancy, artisanal or homemade. The choc-off contestants.(Kim O'Donnel) The idea: To get a pulse on the state of mass-produced Valentine's samplers and to determine which, if any, of the contestants would be worth the money, even at the last procastinator's minute. The scene: A pile of half-eaten chocolates in a "spit cup" for those too harsh to go down the hatch. A lot of chocolate-induced fidgeting, including some teeth experiencing sugar jitters. The work we do is hard labor, I tell you. The chocolate contestants included: "Grand Assortment," by Lake Champlain Chocolates, of Burlington, Vt. What you get: 22 pieces, a...


By Kim ODonnel | February 9, 2007; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (14)

The Great Chip-Off

Twelve chippers, seven chips, two dips. That was the scene yesterday morning at the offices of, where the "Mighty Appetite Chip-Off" took place. staffers Christian Pelusi (rear), Troy Witcher (near left) and Rocci Fisch (right) hard at work. (Kim O'Donnel) It was early for chips -- 10 a.m. -- but that didn't stop these connoisseurs. There was important business to cover, and as one chipper argued, a bagel-and-cream cheese breakfast is likely to be nutrionally comparable to this chip-n'-dip buffet. The objective: To identify the "best in show" supermarket brand of plain potato chip, just in time for Super Bowl Sunday. The methodology: A blind taste test, taking several criteria into consideration, including: salt quotient, crunch, mouth feel, dip-ability, freshness and authentic potato flavor. Chips were divided into two categories -- ridged and regular. Panelists evaluated each chip individually, then rated them, in numerical order -- #1 representing...


By Kim ODonnel | February 2, 2007; 10:46 AM ET | Comments (52)

Chocolate Vision

It was the summer of 1980. I was an exchange student in St. Gallen, Switzerland. It was my first trip to Europe, and I was 14 with a mouthful of braces, earnestly trying to like being away from home. Whenever a bout of homesickness would set in, I'd board a bus and go into the center of town, where I'd roam and study faces and houses that were so different from those at home. I always ended up at the train station, a center of activity, and an important pit stop. It was at the station newsstand where I'd buy a copy of the International Herald Tribune to catch up on anything familiar, and to wash down the news with a bar of chocolate. A small sampler of the choc-choices on the market. (Kim O'Donnel) Even at the newsstand, the chocolate choices were far more varied than at the pharmacy...


By Kim ODonnel | December 6, 2006; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (36)


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