With V’s diagnosis of Celiac came a massive purge of many pre-made foods that we had in the house. On one hand it’s good for everyone: the less processed food we eat, the better. On the other hand, with both parents working outside the home, we rely on pre-made food for some of our meals because we simply do not have time and energy to make every meal from scratch. We said good-bye to chicken nuggets and breaded chicken for while. Not that we’d eat it often, but from time to time it came in really handy when we were in a pinch. Then a friend of mine clued me in that Target had gluten-free chicken nuggets and breaded chicken made by Tyson. It was really yummy and you could not tell it was gluten-free! And, compared to other brands we found in specialty stores, it was affordable! (Please don’t get me started about the exorbitant price tags of some GF foods.) And then, on a recent trip to Target, I noticed that they added Perdue brand of GF breaded chicken. Naturally, I had to put both brands to a very rigorous and scientific test. It just to happened that V’s best friend and her Mom were visiting so I recruited them to be my expert testers. I prepared both samples by first heating them up in a microwave and then toasting them in a toaster oven. My testers did a blind test: they did not watch the preparation and did not know which sample was which brand. Here are the exciting results of the test:
Smell: Sample A won a unanimous preference. Sample B did not smell badly but everyone said that sample A smelled more like real chicken.
Visual Appearance: Sample B won hands-down. It looked more flakey, more fresh, and it looked more like a breaded chicken breast. Sample A looked more like a long chicken nugget.
Taste and Texture: I participated in this portion of the test and we had mixed results. I had a preference for Sample B because it was softer and I liked the flavor of the breading. Kids and friend’s Mom preferred sample A. Kids said that sample A tasted more like chicken nuggets and they liked it. Friend’s Mom was not a fan of the breading flavor.
Nutrition and carbohydrate content: Both brands use boneless chicken breast with rib meat as the primary ingredient. The list of ingredients for Sample A is shorter. Sample B contains soy oil as one of the ingredients, which is not something I am crazy about. Both samples have equal carbohydrate content: 14g.carbs in 87g. of Sample A and 13g. carbs in 84g. of Sample B, which amounts to about three pieces for each brand.
Price and accessibility: Both brands are available at Target in the freezer section but I have not been able to locate them in any other stores. Perdue’s price tag is $5.79 for 22 oz. net weight. Tyson costs $6.29 for 14 oz. net weight – significantly more expensive.
Overall impression: If you did not know these samples were gluten-free you would not be able to tell. Perdue brand is slightly less processed but in taste and appearance strongly resembles chicken nuggets. It is also less expensive. Tyson brand looks and tastes more like breaded chicken breasts but it is a little more processed, more expensive, and breading flavor may not appeal to everyone. Ultimately, it is a personal preference. We have a few bags of Tyson brand left in the freezer and once we are through with them we may switch to Perdue, or may continue to purchase both.