Searching for the grapest jelly of them all

Published June 6, 2007

Grape jelly ranking:

1. Hannaford

2. Welch's

3. Smucker's


One of our panelists said he never ate grape jelly as a child because his father hated it and wouldn't permit it in the house.

Another judge said that grape jelly was the only flavor she had ever tasted.

Our test produced similar results. Some judges loved it, but another said he would never buy it.

We lathered seven varieties of grape jelly on crackers or bread to select the best brand.

Hannaford's jelly $1.39 for 18 ounces from Sweetbay was the best, according to our jelly lovers. They gave it 62 of 100 possible points.

"It's soft and almost tastes like candy, " said one panelist, who likened the flavor to cabernet.

Another said it was "as good as a nap on Sunday."

"My kids would love this with peanut butter, " said a mother on our panel.

Three of the four judges said they would buy the Sweetbay store brand.

The same three liked the grape jelly from well-known Welch's ($1.79 for 18 ounces at Publix). They gave Welch's 60 points.

The jelly packed plenty of grape flavor into a cranberry sauce-like texture. Three judges said they usually buy Welch's jelly and would continue to do so.

"It's like kissing Barney, the grape-colored dinosaur - you don't believe the sweetness, " said the one panelist, who found the jelly too sugary.

He liked the third choice best, although he was outnumbered by those who preferred the first two selections.

His favorite was the grape jelly from Smucker's ($1.69 for 12 ounces from Publix). Overall, that jelly scored 34 points, most of which came from the one judge who said he would buy the brand.

While his fellow judges complained that the Smucker's jelly was too dark and too sticky, one panelist liked its spreadable texture.

He described the mix of grape flavor as complex and having a "great burst of grapeness at first bite."

"It's almost like a jam or preserve - something that you might find in the jelly caddy at the Vinoy, " he said.

Also sampled were jellies from: Albertson's ($1.69 for an 18-ounce jar); Great Value ($1.04 for 18 ounces from Wal-Mart); Smucker's Organic ($3.39 for 12 ounces from Albertson's); and Publix ($1.19 for a 12-ounce jar).

Panelists were: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620, Jim Yockey, aestetician at Indulgence Medical Day Spa; and consumer Julie Overton, mother of four. All foods were tasted blind.