Everything at This Grocery Store Is $3—But Is it Worth it?

We put it to the test.

Photography by cody guilfoyle

If you haven't heard of Brandless, allow us to give you a brief backstory. Having launched mid-last year, the founding concept behind the start-up was a simple yet significant one: to provide everyday household essentials at an affordable price. If that doesn't ring a bell, the fact that everything in the shop is $3 just might. With the goal of democratizing consumer goods, Brandless's vision came to life by way of an online shop, which at present day, boasts everything from pantry goods and kitchen accessories to beauty and personal care essentials.

That got us thinking—would one be able to actually tell the difference between the Brandless variety and its name brand counterpart?

We decided to put the query to the test by whipping up a cheeseboard and letting the unsuspecting members of team Domino try to distinguish the "budget" side from the alternative, sourced from none other than Whole Foods. The results? Well, you'll definitely have to read on to figure out but, we will say that it was one we didn't see coming. Read on to get the scoop. 


Making of the Cheeseboard
To begin, we popped into our local Whole Foods to pick up the correlative items that were ordered off Brandless. Matching the products for our cheeseboard proved to be relatively simple, as far as looks went anyway. The true assessment, however, would come later, namely in the form of a taste-testing.  

Seeing as Brandless does not offer fresh dairy, we decided to stick with the dry goods. In true form of creating a cheeseboard, our list of essentials included crackers, dried fruit, mixed nuts, and a little something sweet, on the side. Here's what we bought:

The Shopping List

Whole Foods

  • 365 Organic Blackberry Spread - $3.99
  • 365 Wheat Crackers - $2.79
  • Simply 7 Sea Salt Quinoa Chips - $3.00
  • Organic Dried Mango - $2.16
  • Mixed Nuts (from self-service bar) - $3.38
Total spent on Whole Foods: $15.32

Brandless
Total spent on Brandless: $20*
*While the total of the items above rang in at $15, we did have to pay a $5 shipping fee. Shipping on Brandless is free for orders exceeding $40 and waived as well for first-time shoppers. 

Photography by cody guilfoyle

Can You Spot the Difference?
When it came to building the cheeseboard, the neutral components (i.e. the cheeses) were designated for the center, while the rivaling elements (chips, crackers, and dried fruit) were strategically set on opposing sides of the tray. 

Solely taking looks into consideration, the right side of the board proved to be the more appetizing one—a sentiment we found to be unanimous when polling the team. Its saturated color and general visual qualities were notable characteristics, which prompted our team of taste-testers to consistently reach for it over the counterpart on the left. 


The Tasting
This is where things got interesting. Once we got down to the actual act of snacking, one detail was very clear: the items on the left side of the board proved to be far more appetizing than those on the opposing side. Every one of the items—from the crackers to the dried fruit, boasted a significant difference in taste, the freshness factor being an overwhelmingly prominent detail. The dried mango on the left was far less sweet than the one on the right, while the quinoa chips on the left were far less salty than the one on the right. 

The Verdict: Whole Foods takes the cake. 

The winner came by way of the goods on the left side of the board (Whole Foods), which despite its looks, proved to be significantly more delicious and generally fresher. 

It's safe to say that we would justify spending the extra $0.32—not even factoring in the shipping fee we had to pay—for the name brand variety, given the palpable difference we experienced in taste and quality. And while we're all for saving on pantry goods and everyday essentials, we may just stick to the local grocery store when it comes to the edibles. For now.  

Published on April 23, 2018 - 2:30pm EDT

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