If it's bagels you want, satisfactory taste is in store

Published July 26, 2006

Taster's Choice panelists claimed to be open-minded about store-bought bagels. They prefer the morning offering at the local bagel shop, as do I, but they will reach for a substitute in a pinch. The only rule: Bagels have to be really fresh to be good.

We sampled 10 bagels from local grocery stores - two were from the freezer section and warmed in the oven or microwave as directed by the manufacturer.

Judges liked Ray's frozen bagels $2.50 for a bag of six from Publix. They gave these 70 out of a possible 100 points. Three of the four panelists said they would buy the Ray's brand.

Panelists liked the chewy texture of the bagels, the slightly sweet taste and the light brown color.

"They are better than a regular bagel," said one.

Another judge said, "These look like they came right out of the oven fresh."

Only one judge complained that the Ray's bagels weren't presliced.

The second and third choices were found on the bread aisles at local grocery stores.

Judges gave Thomas bagels (six for $2.50 at Kash n' Karry) a total of 61 points. Again, three of the four said they would buy them.

"These have a woodsy taste," one panelist said. Other panelists thought the Thomas brand was too chewy.

Bagels by Cobblestone Mill (six for $2.87 from Albertsons) earned a total of 57 points. Two of the four judges said they would buy these.

Panelists liked how easily the bagels split in half. One appreciated the corn meal on the bottom, making the bagels seem more like they came out of the oven of a local baker.

The Cobblestone Mill bagels were a bit softer than the others but just as sweet and flavorful.

Also tasted were bagels by Lender's (six frozen for $1.50 at Publix); Publix Premium (six for $2.29); Pepperidge Farm (six for $2.09 at Wal-Mart); Golden Classics (six for $1.50 at Albertsons); Sara Lee (six for $2.50 at Albertsons); Market Pantry (six for $1.99 at Target); Hannaford (five for 99 cents at Kash n' Karry).

Panelists were Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620 Gary Kawalec, chef/owner of Tampa Bay Supper Club in Safety Harbor; and Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Indulgence Medical Day Spa in St. Petersburg. All bagels were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimescom. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line.


1. Ray's

2. Thomas

3. Cobblestone Mill