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A debate my Mother and I have had since I was a teen was whether or not national brands are in fact better than store brands. We see the store brands wherever you shop these days and sometimes they are significantly cheaper than the national brand but the question is, do they taste better?
The other day I was shopping at Smart & Final gearing up for the holidays, the nice thing about Smart & Final is that it's a one-stop shop. You can get everything you need from seasonal items, produce to meats. The thing I love about Smart & Final is that they carry all the warehouse store items without the club fee and the crowds - you literally can get in and out of the store with ease!
|I found the frozen chicken right next to my produce department.|
We hosted Easter lunch and I wanted to have a quick appetizer that would appeal to everyone in the family. Since my Mom and I have had an ongoing discussion about brands I thought it would be fun to do a taste comparison and recipe. My comparison would be with First Street Chicken Party Wings (4 lbs.) vs. Tyson Chicken Wing Portions (18 oz.) and First Street Original Sweet BBQ Sauce (18 oz.) vs. Sweet Baby Ray's Original BBQ Sauce.
I began my prep the day before Easter, frozen chicken wings take a while to thaw and since I was thawing quite a lot of chicken I let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator. The thing I noticed right away when opening the First Street Chicken Party Wings vs. Tyson Chicken Wing Portions was that the First Street bag had more uniformed pieces. They weren't big, they were pretty small and the Tyson bag had some large pieces and some small. I liked that the First Street bag stayed to the "party" name and kept the bites small.
For the wings I wanted to keep the basics simple. There were guests ranging from my two-year-old son to my Dad who is sixty-nine. I didn't want to load the wings with sauce and not have the kids enjoy them. I coated the wings in extra virgin olive oil and then continuing with the flavor comparisons I tried Tradewinds Grilled Chicken Seasonings vs. McCormick Grill Mates Barbecue Seasoning. I let the wings bake until they were super crispy, the way we like them, and then served alongside our Easter lunch with the barbecue sauces on the side.
Both sets of wings cooked evenly, perfectly crisp and I didn't need to flip them which made it even easier. When we served them I noticed that the Sweet Baby Rays BBQ had a little more hickory flavor vs. sweetness of the First Street Original Sweet BBQ. The chicken had great flavor, the seasonings were slightly different, the Tradewinds seasoning tasted like my Dad's homemade seasonings (which we love and I just ran out, bonus points!) and the McCormick's seasoning carried out the hickory flavorings and a little more spice from the red pepper flakes. It was a tough decision on who the winner was and trust me that all eighteen guests were grilled on who they thought was better!
Who did we pick? The First Street Chicken Party Wings were overall better in terms of consistency, we liked the Tradewinds Grilled Chicken Seasonings and the kids loved the First Street Original Sweet BBQ sauce. So, naturally the winner was...
The STORE brands! Take that Mom...just kidding!
If you want to give these Easy Barbecue Chicken Wings a try for your next get together or just for an easy weekend lunch I highly encourage you to head on over to the nearest Smart & Final and give their store brands a try!
4 lbs. First Street Chicken Party Wings, defrosted and rinsed
3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 TB Tradewinds Grilled Chicken Seasoning
First Street Original Sweet BBQ Sauce, to taste.
Preheat oven to 375º. Place your thawed and rinsed chicken wings onto a baking sheet. Dab a dry paper towel onto the wings to remove any excess water. Coat the chicken with the oil and seasonings and toss with your hands. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the wings reach the level of crispness you enjoy!
If you live in the San Diego Area you will be happy to know a new Smart and Final store is opening in Poway on April 30, 2014:
12339 Poway Rd.
Poway, CA. 92064
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