Thursday, July 12, 2012

Peanut Butter Time!

The contenders

Are you a fan of peanut butter? If so this post is for you! We compared what we believe are the four main types of peanut butter available at Wal-Mart: Great Value, Peter Pan, Jif, and Skippy. In all cases we tested the regular (not low-fat or low sodium or natural) creamy-type peanut butter. BTW, while we have some peanut butter fans in our household, we will be giving two of these jars away (we'll reveal which two below!) because the jars have "best if used by dates" and we're afraid we will not be able to eat it all before then. A person can only eat so much peanut butter!

Price: We were in luck this time - each of these peanut butters came in a 28 ounce size. We are aware of course that two of the jars in the picture above are not the 28 ounce size, but we compared the prices of the 28 ounce jar for each type of peanut butter. We bought smaller jars when we could because we just didn't need that much peanut butter! Our biggest surprise was when we found that the Great Value and Jif brands cost exactly the same, each of which cost 7% less than the Peter Pan peanut butter and 9% less than the most expensive Skippy peanut butter. The savings this time were not as great as they have been with other items we've compared, but every little bit counts in this economy, right?

Ingredients: Peanut butter contains basically four ingredients: peanuts, sugar, vegetable oil and salt. A few of the brands added some other things though, too:

Great Value: peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil (rapeseed, cottonseed, soybean), dextrose, salt, molasses, monoglycerides.

Jif (the label says Jif is the "#1 Choice of Choosy Moms"): roasted peanuts and sugar, contains 2% or less of: molasses, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, salt.

Peter Pan: roasted peanuts, sugar, less than 2% of: hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed and rapeseed), salt, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.

Skippy: roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed, soybean and rapeseed) to prevent separation, salt (the least amount of ingredients, and they are all things that we recognize - always a plus!).

We once again are curious how easy/difficult it is to make your own peanut butter (and if it's worth it) - anyone tried it?

Calories/Nutritional Information: The Great Value peanut butter had the least amount of calories and fat per serving, at 180 calories and 15 grams of fat, 130 mg of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein. Jif and Skippy each had slightly more calories and fat per serving, at 190 calories and 16 grams of fat. These also had slightly more sodium per serving, at 140 mg for Jif and 150 mg for Skippy. Jif contained the same amount of carbohydrates and protein per serving as the generic, and Skippy had one additional gram of carbohydrates and the same amount of protein per serving as the generic. Peter Pan had the most calories and fat per serving at 210 calories and 17 grams of fat, 140 mg of sodium, slightly less (6 grams) carbohydrates than the others, and slightly more protein per serving at 8 grams.

Appearance: The peanut butters ranged from Jif being the lightest to Peter Pan being the darkest in color. Also the Great Value peanut butter had a more solid, uniform color compared to the other three, which all had more "speckles" of peanut in them.

Color comparison - Jif vs. Peter Pan

See the speckles in the Peter Pan peanut butter vs. lack of peanut speckles in the generic?
 Texture/the chew test: The Jif peanut butter felt a little thicker than the others, while the Skippy, Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butters all seemed a little creamier. The Great Value peanut butter had the most oily texture.

Taste: This was our most fun taste test to date. We pulled in some guest taste testers for this one since there were so many different kinds of peanut butter and found that everyone had different opinions on which peanut butter they thought was best. We did agree to some basic taste results, though: 1) the Great Value peanut butter has the least peanuty and most oily taste (in fact a few of us were shocked by the oily-ness of the GV peanut butter after trying all the others), and had a somewhat unpleasant after taste; 2) the Skippy peanut butter tasted sweeter than the others; 3) the Peter Pan peanut butter was the least sweet, and had a more salty roasted peanut taste; and 4) Jif seemed to be in between Skippy and Peter Pan in terms of roasted peanut flavor and sweetness (sweeter than Peter Pan but not as sweet as Skippy, and more roasted peanut flavor than Skippy but less than Peter Pan).

Bottom line: Although our guest taste testers each had their own favorite, we would generally recommend Jif, since it was the cheapest (same price as the generic) and still had a good flavor, balancing sweetness and roasted peanut taste. Oh and as for the jars we're giving away - the Great Value peanut butter is being donated to our breakroom at the office and the Peter Pan peanut butter will go to one of our guest tasters, because it was her favorite and took her back to her childhood. Enjoy KJ!

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