More than a decade ago, one of the regional grocery stores called their generic brand “Finast.” Around that time, I secured a new job which included a nice bump in salary.
As Maria and I celebrated, I told her we could now buy “the finest meats and cheeses.” She replied, “Instead of Finast meats and cheeses.”
The joke has hung around our house all this time. I really have nothing against generic brands and often buy them myself. The markup for the name on the box isn’t always worth it.
My wife, however, made a grave miscalculation about that last week. She bought generic Cheez-Its.
To say this caused controversy at home would not accurately capture the situation. There were text messages followed by a long discussion at dinner followed by Facebook posts that allowed friends and family to weigh in on the matter. One of my older sisters taunted us with a picture of a bag of Cheez-Its with the caption “looks like we made it.”
That kind of hurt. I have turned into a little bit of a cheapskate as I have gotten older. I don’t make impulse buys like I used to. When I do, I make sure I am getting a really good discount.
But some things shouldn’t even enter into the conversation when it comes to cutting corners. I mean, if you really have money problems there is absolutely no shame in getting generic cheesy snack crackers.
Thankfully, we don’t have that kind of issue right now. We’re not diving into swimming pools filled with money (well, not yet because I am writing this before Friday’s lottery drawing) like Scrooge McDuck, but we can easily afford the 50-cent difference between the generic and name brand on this item.
When we took this topic to social media, some folks suggested a blind taste test to see if the hubbub about this purchase really mattered. I would have no problem with that. In fact, I bet I would enjoy the generic brand just fine.
Some products transcend the whole name brand vs. generic debate, however. The name defines them.
Cheez-Its falls into this category. So do Oreos. I would argue that Fritos do, but the price difference between the two is pretty stark so I supported my wife buying the generic ones as long as she put them into the name-brand bag to quell any potential uprising.
I also have no problem with generic salsa or salad dressing or other condiments. We eat generic yogurt sometimes, and I regularly eat generic granola bars in the morning at work.
This is a pretty fine line in my mind. While we never reached a consensus on this issue, people pretty much agreed that generics as a whole aren’t bad. It all depends on the product.
For instance, I have no problem with generic soda. When I see a sale on the off-brand stuff, I will sometimes grab a 12-pack or two.
One of my wife’s guilty pleasures is a diet soda in the afternoon. I wonder what would happen if I bought her a generic brand?
On second thought, I don’t know if I want to go down that road. She could retaliate with generic beer.