Do the Lookalikes Taste Alike, Too?
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images CC

Aldi Products That Taste Like Name Brands — and Some That Definitely Don't

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Do the Lookalikes Taste Alike, Too?
Alex Wong/Getty Images News/Getty Images CC

Do the Lookalikes Taste Alike, Too?

One of the first things newbies notice on their first trip to Aldi is how familiar some of its items appear. While most store brands imitate their name-brand rivals to some degree, Aldi has the practice down to a science. But beyond the copycat packaging, how do its products taste compared with the brands so many of us know and love? I set out to find out, and potentially save you some money along the way.

Methodology: Without knowing which product was which, I rated how closely matched each Aldi product and a corresponding name brand were on taste using a four-point scale (not very similar, somewhat similar, very similar, dead ringer). Once I rated the products for taste, I factored in the price difference to decide whether I would buy the Aldi product again.

Related: Over 50 Store-Brand Foods That Deliver Quality and Savings

Apple Juice
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Apple Juice

Mott's can't be happy about how similar Aldi's Nature's Nectar Apple Juice parrots its product. They also can't be happy about how much cheaper it is: Aldi's juice was $1.09 versus $2.99 for the same size bottle of Mott's Apple Juice at Kroger. That's less than 2 cents an ounce for Aldi's brand and just under 5 cents an ounce for the name brand.

Apple Juice Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer
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Apple Juice Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer

Appearance, taste, smell — nothing betrayed any difference between Aldi's apple juice and the familiar bottle of Mott's. In fact, I had to double-check that I didn't mistakenly test two glasses of the same juice.

Would I buy it again? I'd be silly not to.

Sliced Turkey
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Sliced Turkey

While school's in, turkey sandwiches are a lunchbox staple, so any opportunity to save is a good one. Aldi charges $2.49 for a 9-ounce packet of its Lunch Mate Turkey breast, which comes in very similar packaging to Oscar Meyer's Deli Fresh Oven Roasted Turkey. The Oscar Meyer brand was $4.29 at Kroger. That's 28 cents an ounce for the Aldi brand, and 48 cents an ounce for the name brand.

Sliced Turkey Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer
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Sliced Turkey Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer

I suspected these would be close going in, and I was right. It was impossible to detect any difference in taste between the two, though Oscar Meyer's turkey did have a "meatier," rougher texture, while Aldi's turkey was smoother and more lunch-meat like.

Would I buy it again? I'm all for cheaper turkey sandwiches, so definitely.

American Cheese
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American Cheese

Kraft has made an empire from these yellow slices of nebulous foodstuff, and for our money, we don't want anything else on our grilled cheese sandwiches. Except, perhaps, Aldi's cheaper version. Sixteen of its Happy Farms Singles cost $1.45, while Kraft's iconic American Singles cost us $3.39. That's 9 cents a slice at Aldi, and a whopping 21 cents a slice for the name brand at Kroger.

American Cheese Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer
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American Cheese Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer

Unless you're offended by the brighter yellow or slightly thicker cut of Aldi's cheese slices, they taste just as gloriously processed as Kraft's ubiquitous singles. And whatever differences there were completely evaporated on a sandwich.

Blueberry Mini Muffins
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Blueberry Mini Muffins

Another perennial kid favorite, these little pouches are unfortunately pricey, making them only an occasional lunch-box treat. But buying at Aldi may mean they start making an appearance more frequently: There, the Baker's Treat brand is $2.29 for five pouches versus $3.99 for Hostess at Kroger. That's 46 cents a pouch at Aldi, and 80 cents a pouch for the name brand.

Blueberry Mini Muffins Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer
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Blueberry Mini Muffins Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer

These definitely looked, smelled, and tasted eerily similar. I had to double-check after tasting to make sure I was eating both brands, not just one.

Would we buy again? Definitely, much to my kids' delight.

Ketchup
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Ketchup

That big red bottle doesn't have to come with a big price tag, especially during grilling season. A 38-ounce bottle of Aldi's Burman's brand ran us $1.19, or about 3 cents an ounce, while buying the same size bottle of Heinz at Kroger cost us $3.29, or about 9 cents an ounce.

Ketchup Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer
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Ketchup Taste-Test Verdict: Dead Ringer

I didn't expect there to be much of a difference here, and I was right. Color, consistency and taste were very similar between both brands. Why do people buy name-brand ketchup, again?

Would we buy again? Absolutely.

Toaster Pastries
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Toaster Pastries

A quick glance at a box of Millville Toaster Tarts might have you doing a double-take, as the similarity to Kellogg's Pop-Tarts is pretty uncanny. The price isn't similar, though: A 12-count box of Aldi's brand was $1.09, and the name brand was $2.99 at Kroger. That works out to just under 10 cents a pastry at Aldi, and 25 cents each for the name brand.

Toaster Pastries Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar
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Toaster Pastries Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar

Interestingly, Aldi's Millville Toaster Tarts were a bit sweeter, with what seemed to be more cinnamon-sugar filling. In contrast, Kellogg's Pop-Tarts were a breadier — and I actually ended up preferring the Aldi brand.

Would I buy them again? Definitely, especially with the savings.

Toaster Waffles
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Toaster Waffles

L'eggo my … Breakfast Best Homestyle Waffle? The slogan might not work well, but the unabashed packaging leaves no doubt that Aldi is gunning for Eggo with this frozen-food staple. Aldi's brand cost $1.19 for 10 waffles, or about 12 cents a waffle, while a 10-count package of Eggos at Kroger was $2.59, or 26 cents a waffle.

Toaster Waffles Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar
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Toaster Waffles Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar

Aldi's Breakfast Best waffles look a little more raggedy around the edges than the uniform Eggos, but they taste almost exactly the same as their name-brand counterparts. Moreover, Aldi's brand had a lighter, crispier, more pleasant texture than the Eggos, which were chewier.

Would I buy them again? Yes — I actually preferred Aldi's waffles, and you can't beat the price.

Fruity Cereal
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Fruity Cereal

Toucan Sam and Kellogg's Froot Loops have been cereal-aisle staples for as long as we can remember. It's unclear whether the avian mascot on Aldi's box of Millville Fruit Rounds has a name, but there's no mistaking what product he's supposed to evoke. At $1.29 for a 12-ounce box, Aldi's brand is about 11 cents an ounce, while we paid $2.99 for a 10.1-ounce box of Froot Loops at Kroger, or 30 cents an ounce.

Fruity Cereal Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar
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Fruity Cereal Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar

Other than price, the biggest difference here is appearance: Aldi's Fruit Rounds aren't as brightly colored as the name brand. But the taste is almost dead on, especially in milk, though Kellogg's Froot Loops may be just a touch sweeter.

Would I buy it again? Definitely, especially knowing how fast my kids inhale cereal.

Swiss Rolls
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Swiss Rolls

These indulgent, creamy snack cakes are a longtime snack-aisle staple, and there's no doubt that Little Debbie is the name to beat. But on price, there's no real contest: Aldi's Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls were just 89 cents for 12 cakes, or 7 cents a cake, while we paid $1.99 for 12 Little Debbie Swiss Rolls at Kroger, or about 17 cents a cake.

Swiss Rolls Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar
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Swiss Rolls Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar

Aldi's Swiss Rolls aren't quite as pleasing to the eye or the hands — they're not as plump and the chocolate coating flakes off easier — but they taste very similar to Little Debbies, and might even be a little sweeter.

Would we buy again? Yes, and my wallet will thank me for it, if not my waistline.

Corn Chips
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Corn Chips

It's hard to resist the siren song of that yellow bag when you need a vessel for your favorite dip. Of course, Aldi's siren song won't leave such a dent in your wallet. It cost $1.29 for a 9.25-ounce bag of Clancy's Corn Chips Big Dippers at Aldi, and $4.49 for an 18-ounce bag of Fritos Scoops at Kroger. That works out to 14 cents an ounce for Aldi's chips, and 25 cents an ounce for Fritos.

Corn Chips Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar
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Corn Chips Taste-Test Verdict: Very Similar

Though I detected a little bit less crunch and salt while eating the Clancy's corn chips, the flavor profile was a very close match with Fritos.

Would we buy again? Yes, especially in bulk for parties when every cent counts.

Fish Sticks
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Fish Sticks

The bright blue box of Sea Queen fish sticks in Aldi's small frozen food aisle definitely evokes comparisons to Van de Kamp's. But Aldi's price is much nicer: $2.99 for a roughly 44-count box versus $5.49 for the name brand at Kroger. That's about 7 cents a fish stick at Aldi, and 12 cents at Kroger.

Fish Sticks Taste-Test Verdict: Somewhat Similar
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Fish Sticks Taste-Test Verdict: Somewhat Similar

Aldi's Sea Queen fish sticks were a bit smaller and more uniform, while Van de Kamp's were plumper and occasionally oddly shaped. And Aldi's tasted "fishier," while Van de Kamp's had a more even ratio of breading to fish that I preferred.

Would I buy the Aldi brand again? Probably — in this case, the savings overcome my slight name-brand preference.

Cheese Curls
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Cheese Curls

They aren't Cheetos, but Aldi probably wouldn't mind if you blindly grabbed their orange bag of Clancy's Cheese Curls thinking they are. The price won't fool you, though. Aldi wants just $1.29 for an 8.5-ounce bag of its cheesy snack, while Kroger wants $2.99. That breaks down to 15 cents an ounce for the Aldi brand, and 35 cents an ounce for the name brand.

Cheese Curls Taste-Test Verdict: Somewhat Similar
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Cheese Curls Taste-Test Verdict: Somewhat Similar

They look almost identical, but Aldi Clancy's Cheese Curls were slightly more bready and less cheesy than name-brand Cheetos.

Would I buy the Aldi brand again? In bulk for parties? Absolutely. For my own snack stash, I'm still going to grab Cheetos, preferably on sale.

Cheese Pizza Rolls
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Cheese Pizza Rolls

Pizza rolls are always there for us when we need a tasty snack that will burn the skin from the roof of our mouths. But it seems sensible not to overpay for that experience, right? Aldi's Mama Cozzi's Cheese Pizza Snacks cost us $2.39 for 20 ounces, while we paid $4.29 for 24.8 ounces of Totino's Pizza Rolls at Kroger. That's 12 cents an ounce versus 17 cents an ounce, respectively.

Cheese Pizza Rolls Taste-Test Verdict: Somewhat Similar
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Cheese Pizza Rolls Taste-Test Verdict: Somewhat Similar

Aldi's pizza rolls passed the real test with flying colors: They burned my mouth just as well as the name brand. Jokes aside, they had a much cheesier flavor profile, with a slightly puffier crust. The Totino's rolls had a more prominent sauce taste, and a chewier texture.

Would we buy again? Yes, though it really comes down to whether you are in it for the cheese (Aldi) or the sauce (Totino's).

Round Snack Crackers
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Round Snack Crackers

Aldi isn't content to use the familiar red, blue and yellow of Nabisco Ritz Crackers box — in this case, there's an eerily similar name, too. But as with all things Aldi, the price is the real difference: $1.35 for 13.7 ounces of its Savoritz Original crackers versus $2.99 for the same size box of Ritz at Kroger. That's about a dime an ounce at Aldi, and 22 cents an ounce for the name brand.

Round Snack Crackers Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar
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Round Snack Crackers Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar

These crackers look quite similar, but that's where the positives end for Aldi's brand. The Savoritz crackers were quicker to crumble and had a much breadier aftertaste, while the Ritz crackers were lighter, crispier, and more buttery. No contest here.

Would I buy them again? Nope — in this case, I'll happily pay more for the name brand.

Vegetarian 'Chicken' Patties
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Vegetarian 'Chicken' Patties

We'll take a break from our regularly scheduled junk food to discuss a slightly better-for-you option. Aldi has expanded its healthier selections in recent years, and one such product is its Earth Grown Chickenless Patties. They cost $3.29 for four compared with $3.99 for four of MorningStar Farms Original Chick Veggie Patties at Kroger. That's 83 cents a patty at Aldi, and just under $1 at Kroger.

Vegetarian 'Chicken' Patties Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar
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Vegetarian 'Chicken' Patties Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar

I have to give Aldi credit for courting vegetarians, but their Chickenless Patties were a resounding dud. While MorningStar's patty was pleasantly crispy, even after microwaving, with a surprisingly meaty flavor, Aldi's was confoundingly chewy and just … off. Tastes like chicken? Not so much.

Would we buy again? Not even if you paid me.

Diet Cola
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Diet Cola

There's no mistaking who Aldi is imitating with its Diet Summit Cola. But there's a vast difference when it comes to price: $2.29 for a dozen cans at Aldi versus $5.49 for a 12 pack of Diet Coke at Kroger. That breaks down to 19 cents a can for Aldi's soda, and a whopping 46 cents a can for the name brand.

Diet Cola Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar
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Diet Cola Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar

I could tell a difference just by smelling — Aldi's Diet Summit had a much more distinctive cola smell that Diet Coke lacked. That carried over in the taste, which was more robust than smooth, mild Diet Coke. There was also less carbonation with Aldi's brand.

Would I buy the Aldi brand again? I'm an unabashed Diet Coke devotee, so no. However, if you miss the taste of regular Coke and don't pucker at the sweetness every time you drink it, you might appreciate the bolder flavor of Diet Summit.

Baked Cheese Snack Crackers
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Baked Cheese Snack Crackers

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish have been a go-to snack for little kids for years, so it's only natural that Aldi wants in on the action. Its Savoritz 4 Kids Penguin Cheddar Crackers cost us $1.49 for a 6.6-ounce bag, or 23 cents an ounce; the name brand cost $1.99, or 30 cents an ounce, at Kroger.

Baked Cheese Snack Crackers Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar
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Baked Cheese Snack Crackers Taste-Test Verdict: Not Very Similar

It's a swing and a miss for Aldi here. The penguin crackers were thin and crispy, without that signature Goldfish puffiness; sadly, they were also a lot less cheesy. The aftertaste wasn't unlike that of a regular Ritz-type snack cracker, while the Goldfish had that extra tanginess.

Would we buy again? Nope — these would collect dust in the pantry.