After all was said and eaten, our judges agreed that it's darn near impossible to make a bad chocolate pie.
But a word for the wise: The prettier the packaging, the better the pie. Taster's Choice sampled slices from four frozen chocolate pies. Three were thawed in the refrigerator according to their directions. One was tasted frozen, as suggested on the package.
Marie Calendar's Chocolate Satin Pie ($5.99) won over our panelists, earning 68 out of 80 possible points. The frozen pie comes in a large green box that looks like the company's pot pies and other frozen dinners.
"It's smooth, and it melts in your mouth," a judge said.
Others described the Marie Calendar slices as "wonderful," "appetizing," and "fluffy."
Panelists loved the chocolate cookie crust and the plentiful chocolate shavings on top of the creamy filling. All four panelists said they would buy Marie Calendar's pies.
Coming in a close second was Mrs. Smith's French Silk Chocolate Pie ($7.34) with 62 points. Mrs. Smith's pie also featured a mouth-watering picture on the box. It scored high marks for its crumbly pastry crust and nice color.
"This would look really nice on a plate," a panelist said. Another said, "It has a good proportion of whipped topping to yummy chocolate. I would serve this to guests." Three of the four judges said they would buy this pie.
The next favorite was the frozen pie by Edwards ($5.99). It wasn't as difficult to slice as we had anticipated, and it didn't melt while we sampled the others.
Even though it wasn't ice cream, the Edwards pie tasted more like it. It had a few unpleasant ice crystals on top, but overall, judges gave it 55 points. Two said they would buy Edwards and one said she might. The judges said it looked better than it tasted.
The least favorite pie with 40 points came from Sysco, a commercial food company that supplies many local stores and restaurants. Taster's Choice purchased the Sysco pie ($11.99) at the Bayway Country Store on the Pinellas Bayway. It came in a clear, plastic container.
The crust on the Sysco pie "was closest to homemade," according to one panelist. But another said she thought it was a bit boring. Like the Edwards sample, two judges said they would buy Sysco's pie and one saidmaybe. Panelists were: Nan Jensen, home economist with Pinellas County Family and Consumer Sciences; personal chefs Julie Overton and Marc Easterman; and Times food editor Janet Keeler. All products were tested blind. Send suggestions for product testing to Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line.