Brand names or generic and other twaddle

Source: Charmin

During the summer we visited our friends in their “cabin in the woods.” It’s sort of a hunting cabin in a private area about a half hour drive from civilization (that’s defined as grocery stores and pharmacies. There are no Starbucks within a reasonable driving area. For me that makes it extremely remote and primitive. It’s like the outback region of Australia or perhaps those areas in the Amazon jungle where only naked primitive tribes live although we all kept our clothes on).

Because you can’t walk to a corner store to get a roll of toilet paper, they buy in bulk and store most of the essentials. That’s when it became interesting.

The group included folks from their 30s to their 70s. As the conversation on toilet paper and paper towels took off, it was interesting to see who stood where.

Cheap or expensive. Generic or name brand. Single-ply (where your fingers poke through) or triple-ply.

There are some items that no one cared about at all. No one talked about laundry detergent or even soda although I only saw brand name soda stocked. No one talked about dish soap or hand soap either.

The focus was on toilet paper and paper towels and the feelings were as strong as the last presidential election. I was expecting the Russians to offer a resolution.

I like name brands on a lot of things. I know what I’m getting (until they change the package size or weight). You will never find generic cola in my house. We are Coke people. There was a time when I was a Pepsi person and I could be again if they came back with their cherry chocolate cola. (That was the best flavor ever. When it was discontinued I drove to every store and bought out the stock.)

Some things really don’t matter but I have a favorite pasta brand too. I’m choosy about ice cream, bread, butter and milk. Ok, maybe I like more brand name goods than not.

The most vocal argument was between the 30-year-old couple. They clearly had opposite preferences. Most interesting (if you lead a very boring life and yes, this was a half hour discussion) is whether to buy the pick-a-size paper towels or not. (I say yes!)

The beloved husband will tell you that I buy a premium brand paper towel but I do not waste. I will take a half sheet from a pick-a-size roll and further tear it in half if that’s all I need, saving the other half for another chore.

If you come to my house your fingers won’t poke through the toilet paper, you will drink Coke, enjoy real ice cream but if you need a paper towel, you will have to justify a full sheet.

We all have our oddities.

We enjoyed the weekend. We had more intellectual conversations but this was one had the most conflict! Perhaps it’s the new politics.

91 thoughts on “Brand names or generic and other twaddle

  1. I’m brand name for some things, and I’m a Pepsi gal. I like it, and won’t buy a substitute. When it comes to tp, it has to be Kleenex. I hate the scratchy stuff. Same as for nose wipes, it has to be Kleenex with aloe, or its too scratchy. Cheese? Black Diamond all the way! Ice cream? Not so picky, no. Butter? Has to be salt free, and real butter. I draw the line at margarine. Especially for cooking. As for catfood, it has to be Royal Canin. My cats are VERY picky about their food, they won’t eat anything else. So guess that makes all four of us picky. 😛

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  2. Actually, it’s a breath of fresh air to read about a debate on toilet paper and paper towels. I guess that tells you something about today’s ‘climate’ in discussions. I’d be on your side in this debate. I find that buying quality items – even toilet paper and paper towels – is less costly in the end. And I LOVE pick-a-size paper towels. The only way to go. I buy cage-free, pasture-raised meat and organic veggies from local farmers. Same thing – high quality, healthy body. 🙂

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    • I buy cage-free, free range eggs too. Locally you can get meat that is humanely raised and grazes in fields rather than confinement but you pay for it too. It’s worth it for me but we don’t consume a lot of meat. Considering how intense this conversation got, it was almost (ALMOST) like those political discussions (and I use that term loosely) we’ve heard in recent years.

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  3. Oh, I totally get the toilet paper debate, except maybe not for reasons you might think. I’m VERY picky about TP, and tissues, and pretty well anything that’s going to touch my skin. I have skin sensitivities and have had reactions – bad reactions. Trust me, there are places on your body you don’t want to have an allergic reaction 😳

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  4. I’m trying to think where I land on this one, Kate, and I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m too particular on paper towels and toilet paper, but I won’t go too cheap and seriously undermine quality. I don’t think we had the chocolate cherry Pepsi out here, Kate. I would have noted that for sure. I’m sorry they gave up on that!

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    • Many people land in the middle buying brand for items they are more particular about and store brands for those not as important. That chocolate cherry Pepsi was awesome. I don’t know why they discontinued it. Perhaps I’m the only one who thought so. It wasn’t cloying or overly sweet. Just enough flavoring so you could taste it. That’s a problem I have with generic soda. They don’t always get the flavoring formula right.

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  5. I favor the name brands for foodstuff as well – I see and hear of too many recalls for off-brands. Although interestingly, I’ve bought the store brand old-fashioned oatmeal as it is about $1.50 less than Quaker Oats for the largest round carton size. After the Round-up verdict recently, the stories resurfaced about genuine Old-Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal and genuine Cheerios (there must be a 1/2 dozen knock-off round O cereal brands) that contain an ingredient found in Round-up. I only buy Bounty pick-a-size – but I have the generic ones on hand for housework or water emergencies. Like you, peeling off 1/2 sheet is easier and I also make it last by ripping it in two thus justifying buying Bounty. But we have many sales on Bounty – good deals off. I buy the huge roll because the smaller rolls don’t seem to last. Brand-name TP as well. Interesting topic you have here Kate.

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    • We sound alike. We use Bounty too although we occasionally get a cheap brand if we know we will do a project not worthy of Bounty. I just bought oatmeal and I got Quaker. One day they will tell us that we have been poisoning ourselves. Thank you Monsanto!

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      • The cheap towels fall apart when they get wet sometimes … I buy the dinner napkins that are 500 in a pack. They are paper thin, but I use them for various little clean-up jobs, like around the bathroom tap/sink, etc. When I went to Germany with my father in 1969, I was 13 years old. My grandfather died earlier in the year, so my grandmother came over from Canada to spend the Summer with us. When we got to Germany, the first thing I noticed was the toilet paper – it had the consistency of the brown-colored, one-sheet-at-a-time paper towels that you pull out from a public bathroom dispenser (or used to before the advent of hand dryers). Hard as a rock! And a rose color on top of it. So, when I went home, people asked me my impression of Germany – I could not stop talking about the toilet paper. I’d like to think I could trust Quaker. I only started using Meijer brand after I started shopping there when Farmer Jack suddenly closed down after I’d shopped there for decades. I think Triscuits are in that group of no-no items by Monsanto as well and I really like them.

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        • I bet there are many products that have grains that were sprayed with pesticide. When I was a kid, there were fields all around that were farmed. Periodically they were sprayed. It was the 50s so it may well have been DDT.

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          • Sadly, this is likely true. Here in Michigan we are known for our unsafe drinking water – the latest was the discovery a week or so before school started, that most, if not all of the Detroit Public School systems had lead in their water. They now have hydration stations and bottled water for the students to use or they just bring their own from home to drink … but what about the kids that drank from the water fountains for decades already? Gives you food for thought for sure.

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  6. I rarely buy anything but brand name at the supermarket. I’ve tried in the past on a few occasions and it never worked out. Don’t know if I could live somewhere where only generic was sold but maybe you just get used to some things.

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    • I’ve been burned too. My husband is particular about frozen vegetables. We get a specific brand because we can tell the difference. You get used to whatever you have to. We are lucky. With only two people, it’s not financially overwhelming to buy the brands.

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  7. Costco (is that a brand name? 🙂 ) for our paper towels and toilet paper. Although, I do buy the nicer stuff for our guest bath… why do I care more about our guests’ tushes than ours?? I do exactly the same thing with paper towels as you do: pull off the smallest section, then tear it in half.

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    • Costco carries both brand and their own brand. Not sure why you don’t care about your tush! I always put the shampoo I don’t like in the guest room. It’s perfectly good but there is something about it I don’t like for myself.

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    • It had to be 8 to 10 years ago when I drank a lot more soda. Pepsi made several great flavored colas. The vanilla cherry was good too. I think they still make cherry Pepsi but I haven’t seen the others.

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  8. Perhaps your choice of a non-controversial topic was better than politics! Who cares what the Russians think! Decent t. paper is a must and p. towels have to the the invent-a-size. I have depression genes so I don’t like to waste anything. I thought I was the only one who would tear the half sheet in half and save it if I only needed half a half. It must have been difficult for you to be so far from a Starbucks. I like good coffee too but will be satisfied it it is fresh and strong.

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  9. Pick a size a must…it was the greatest invention ever – no more cutting or ripping to the size needed (the assorted messes here come in all sizes – I hate to waste )
    Some things are worth paying a bit more for – we economize enough but if I’m cooking, “good” brand name pasta is going to be used ( besides there those coupons…..only for stuff we actually use!)
    Got such a giggle over the Russian comment.
    Maybe away from all the electronic drips from all the wires, appliances, and such cleared the brain waves to allow people to be able to converse with civility again…on topics that matter…like toilet paper. (The lack of Starbucks is concerning though)

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  10. I never heard of Pepsi cherry chocolate soda. How I wish I could try it!

    Do you remember when generic products came in bright yellow packaging? One of our daughters was so against generics that we teased her and said, “You’re probably going to quit eating bananas because they have the generic yellow color.”

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  11. When I became poor I discovered the real cost of paper products. It’s crazy. Toilet Paper Luxury is a thing only people with disposable income can consider. I buy cheap brands but only certain cheap toilet paper because there is a wide variation of quality in cheap side of town. I will always buy cheap paper towels. I rarely if ever have any need for my paper towel to show any great strength or extra absorbency. So I get whatever is cheapest.

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  12. I tend to buy the paper products in our home because while I don’t necessarily buy in bulk, but I will make a special trip to Target, Walmart, or one of the chain pharmacies — whoever has the best advertised deal that week. I never buy the store generic brands, but I will often be attracted to the lesser-quality name brands (i.e. Angel Soft toilet paper) and this usually gets me in trouble later. So to keep the peace, I’ll buy the more expensive brands but look for deals. You had me laughing with, “I was expecting the Russians to offer a resolution.” – Marty

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  13. Ok, I will admit it…I am wasteful! I don’t like the select – a – size paper towels, but the husband is pretty adamant about only buying that. And for TP, well we are “allowed” to only buy single sheet rolls. He is positive anything more will clog up the system. But, brand vs generic…the jury is still out for me. I look at the brand name product, am sure it has to be better then the store brand and then buy the store brand! And, I guess what I really do is make it an item by item decision.

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  14. I have more name brands than not . . . because Publix does great B1G1F sales every week that feature brand name products. Getting brand name products at 1/2 price is cheaper than buying generic almost always.

    I love the pick-a-size paper towels. It’s so much easier than cutting and tearing whole sheets in half or thirds and it’s simple to pull off a bigger piece if you need it. But I don’t care what brand it is.

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  15. Aha Kate…………… you know how I am about toilet paper and the number of sheets per roll etc etc! We had to use the Andrex in the cottage as it didn’t block our drains which were very shallow. Here however, we have discovered the delights of Premium (courtesy of Aldi), a triple ply tissue on a suitably numbered roll, getting 24 rolls for just over a fiver! Andrex is something like £4.90 for 9.
    Plenty is my choice of kitchen roll as the cheaper brands are pretty useless for mopping up, and I got a bargain of six rolls for a fiver compared to 3 of the same brand for £3.50.
    Yorkshire tea and whatever coffee as we’re not really coffee drinkers and prefer decaf. Milk is of the UHT variety, we have skimmed and Aldi is cheapest at 52p a litre, so we buy three trays on our monthly shop, periodically only needing two.
    Maggie has branded dog food, Bakers chicken meaty chunks as she likes it (most of the time).

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    • We are the opposite. I am a brand person and my husband isn’t. He has learned what is important to me and he buys generic for other things. One of our biggest arguments was about pain killers like aspirin and ibutrophen. I like the brand. He buys the cheap. I say they are not the same!

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  16. Not big on brands here. The legacy of having brought up five children. We used to get through a lot of toilet paper. I think our cat is the biggest brand addict. It has to be go cat.

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    • I didn’t even talk about my pets. One cat will eat nothing but Fancy Feast grilled chicken. Nothing! The other three will eat that or Friskies chicken with an occasional tuna treat. No one likes beef or other seafood. I’ve tried healthier options but they weren’t having any of that!

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  17. Charmin, Viva pick-a-roll, and Puffs (without lotion) over here. I drink Pepsi but rarely buy pop anymore. (Somehow my son is a Coke devotee.) Creamettes, Kemps frozen yogurt, real butter, and almond milk. Yes, it’s funny how particular people can be about brands. I’ll use generic for a lot of things but some items I am very fussy about. 😉

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  18. I’m brand name when it comes to food from a supermarket– I will have the Haagen Daas ice-cream, thanks. Laundry detergent? Whatever smells the best (Costco). Actually, Costco has some pretty tasty stuff under the “Kirkland” banner. Pistachios, dried blueberries, for example.

    My grandmother gave me great advice once on paper towels once. She said Bounty was better for everything except cleaning windows. “Use the cheap ones for windows,” she said. “Less streaks.” Alas, her advice is wasted on me. My husband usually does the Costco shopping and buys Bountry in bulk. Because he doesn’t care about windows, he cares about kitchen spills.

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