20 Store-Brand Products with Cult Followings
If you're still under the impression that store brand products are inferior to their name-brand counterparts, it's time to get with the program. Many retailers' in-house brands are earning shoppers' adoration for everything from reasonably priced groceries to home goods. Some items from places like Costco, Target and Walmart are so good that buyers are even a little fanatical about their finds — but the secret is out now. Here are 20 store-brand buys that customers rave about, many of which are much cheaper than their name brand equivalent.
If you're lucky enough to live in a state where you can buy booze at Costco, Kirkland Signature vodka is a must, customers rave. Testers at The Kitchn prefer the French variety, even ranking it above pricier bottles of Chopin, Reyka, Ketel One, and Grey Goose. In fact, Grey Goose is often compared with Kirkland vodka, and there are long-standing rumors that they're actually the same. But Kirkland is roughly half the price.
Target has perfected the art of store-brand chic, so it's no surprise that design lovers have gone gaga over a $50 round brass mirror from its Project 62 home-décor line. The on-trend piece has inspired hundreds of happy reviews. As one buyer points out, it's "literally 1/5 the cost of similar mirrors I've found elsewhere."
Aldi itself has gained quite a cult following for bargain-basement prices on everything from chips to cheese. One of the best finds, devotees say, is the imported chocolate — in particular, the higher-end Moser Roth line. Chocolate snobs at Food & Wine recommend the 70% Dark and Dark Sea Salt varieties, a steal at roughly $2 per bar.
Who knew it was possible to be passionate about spaghetti? But Walmart shoppers say the store's Great Value brand definitely lives up to its name. "They are a great value for your money and taste like authentic homemade noodles," one Influenster reviewer says. "They cook quickly and don't get overly mushy if they're cooked a tad too long." You'll also pay about 50 cents less for 32 ounces by going with Great Value instead of Barilla.
Thousands of buyers sing the praises of Amazon's warm and toasty Pinzon flannel sheets, which merit a pick as one of Apartment Therapy's favorite budget-friendly sets. And what's not to love: You get 190 grams per square meter of velvety softness. "These are equal in weight and comfort to the $250+ designer flannel sheets I bought for years," one reviewer writes. "I cannot tell a difference between those sheets and these Pinzon ones." Here's a difference: A Pinzon queen set costs just $65.
Trader Joe's shoppers have passionate feelings about its cookie butter — the spreadable confection made with cookies, spice and lots of sugar. Really passionate. One Influenster reviewer calls it "life-changing, and I'm not even exaggerating ... It's highly addictive, but worth every calorie." Bon Appetit has even chronicled the rise of cookie butter in the U.S., where the treat has even made it into Godiva chocolates and Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
It's not often that store-brand cosmetics make a splash, but this $7 foundation made by Walgreens had developed a following after being featured by a number of YouTube beauty vloggers. One reviewer calls it her "new holy grail foundation" and says it's even better than high-end brands that may cost four times as much — or even more. And it's a favorite of testers at Reviews.com for its "enduringly transfer-resistant formula."
This organic Kirkland syrup is a staple on most lists of what to buy at Costco, and reviewers have even taken to singing its praises on Amazon, where some third-party sellers hawk it at a markup. "Hands down almost as good as maple syrup I had growing up in northern Michigan, straight from the tree," one devotee says. It also gets the nod from Consumer Reports for tasting better than pricier brands.
You know those frosted, sprinkled Lofthouse sugar cookies sold at most groceries? Well, you probably either love 'em or hate 'em, but if you're in the former camp, Target's Market Pantry version is a dead ringer, many say. Hundreds of reviewers sing their praises on Influenster. "I don't know what I would do if these were to suddenly stopped being made ... I'd probably cry!" laments one.
Yup, Aldi's carries its own line of baby products, including diapers. Shoppers say they're an amazing value — they're about 15 cents a diaper, compared with closer to a quarter each for national brands like Huggies or Pampers — and one blogger even says they're her second favorite in a test of seven brands. "These are by far the best diapers I have used!" raves one reviewer. "Soft and flexible. Nice fit, not bulky. They are very comparable to the expensive name brands but cost much less."
Costco may be a hot spot for toilet paper and other not-so-glam buys, but its Kirkland Signature shampoo. has been a long-standing favorite of customers who say it's just as good, if not better, than name-brand formulas. "This is better than any fancy shampoo I have purchased in a salon," one reviewer raves. "Sulfate-free, color care, etc. for $10!? Yes please. This bottle would be $30+ if it had a fancy label on it." It also gets a lot of love on Makeup Alley, which is full of notoriously hard-to-please beauty buffs.
It's salty. It's sweet. Target-obsessed Redditors give it a thumbs-up, and so does The Kitchn. But all the recommendation you really need comes from this Target reviewer: "Do not be alarmed when you unscrew the plastic lid from the Monster Mix tub. That noise you hear is the joyful singing of the seraphim from on high, because Monster Mix is good enough to be distributed straight from Heaven." OK, then. We'll take 10 of them.
Diapers, chocolate, mimosas? Aldi is more versatile than you thought, isn't it? Its seasonal mimosa wine has made the brunch crowd swoon this year, meriting breathless mentions from several publications, including Cosmopolitan. "Its dry white wine pairs well with the freshly-squeezed orange juice to deliver your favorite breakfast cocktail sans any sweet aftertaste," Cosmo enthuses. "Plus, the 8 percent (alcohol by volume) makes it ideal for day drinking." Bustle goes even further: "Take them to the park! Don't take them anywhere and just drink them from the comfort of your own home! Mimosas for everyone, everywhere, at (almost) any time!" Sounds like #brunchgoals.
A store-brand product doesn't amass more than 9,000 glowing reviews without being the real deal — and everyone says the $9 Ozark Trail tumbler is worth the hype. A dead ringer for the trendy, pricey Yeti tumbler, Walmart's version performs just as well as the Yeti, reviewers say — but as Prevention notes, it's less than a third of the price. "Recently I left it in my car while I was inside for several hours on a day near 100 degrees," one buyer says. "When I returned the outside of the tumbler was extremely hot but the ice and liquid inside were still cold and frozen. I am sold and a believer!"
Symbolic of CVS' attempt to surprise customers with some higher-brow store-brand products, its Manuka Honey Adhesive Pads are starting to turn heads in a good way. Made with medical-grade honey, they're a natural alternative to slathering antibiotic ointment on bandages. "Will never use another product if possible ... I have very sensitive skin and everything on it leaves a mark — tags, wool, name it," one user says. "Everything, apparently, except for those pads. I don't feel them on my skin. Who can ask for anything more?"
TJ's long list of cult favorites wouldn't be complete without a spot for Everything But the Bagel, a mix of sesame, garlic, onion, salt, and poppy seeds that customers say is irresistible. "The flavor of this is really good, as it does resemble an everything bagel," one Amazon reviewer says. "I bought it to season veggies, but I find I'm sprinkling it on lots of different foods. I put it on my grilled chicken and even on my salad. It's really versatile." Epicurious suggests a lot more uses — you can even garnish your Bloody Mary with it.
Notable mostly for cheap chargers and office supplies, Amazon's AmazonBasics line has expanded in some unexpected directions — including with this $60 Le Creuset lookalike that has made a big splash among chefs who don't have a few hundred bucks to drop on an enameled cast iron pot. "There aren't many noticeable differences," notes Mental Floss. "Both come with loop side handles, a secure lid, and a glossy enamel glaze." One former Le Creuset owner concurs: "This is every bit as good for much less money."
Can a cheddar really be so unexpected? Yes, enthuse Trader Joe's shoppers, who've made this cheese one of the chain's all-time biggest hits. It's actually a mashup of cheddar and parmesan, and it's the undisputed king of TJ's many well-regarded cheeses, according to The Kitchn. You'll find it mentioned with ample adoration on the Internet's many lists of what to buy at Trader Joe's — including our own.
In the battle of the baby wipes, Amazon has acquired a surprising foothold. More than 10,000 buyers say the online giant's own brand of sensitive wipes are as good or better than pricier stalwarts like Pampers or Huggies. "They are thick and get the job done. They have no scent and we've not had any issues using them on sensitive bottoms," one reviewer says. "They hold up great while changing diapers, wiping little hands, removing makeup, and anything else you can use a wipe for." After systematic wipes tests, Your Best Digs praises the Amazon wipes for value and transparency regarding ingredients.
Emblematic of Sam's newly aggressive focus its in-house Member's Mark brand, its sea-salt caramels are unexpectedly high-brow for the Walmart-owned warehouse club. They're handmade in copper kettles using a traditional recipe, and customers rave about the results. "Bought these on a whim and WOWZA they are fantastic," one buyer says. "The price was right and the taste, oh my. The caramel is soft and delectable, the chocolate fabulous and the sea salt is the perfect complement."
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