We like ALDI and most of the products we’ve bought there. If you’re not familiar, it’s a German-owned grocery chain and almost everything they sell is generic. This is a lot like Trader Joe’s, and in fact, they’re both owned by the same German family.

I often wonder how similar the generic products are to the name brand products they’re “imitating.” I use quotes because I’ve noticed that in some cases, it’s more “inspiration” than “imitation,” because ALDI adheres to European food standards, particularly evident in the use of natural food colors vs. the synthetic dyes more common in the US, and often uses fewer ingredients for a given product. It’ll obviously vary by product, but as a broad stroke, most of their products seem to be the same or more healthful than the name-brand.

This post is going to be a running list of items we’ve side-by-side tested (at least until I forget) with minimal observations.

General Mills Lucky Charms vs. Millville Marshmallows & Stars: the nutrition facts, ingredients, texture, and flavor are very similar overall, but the one major difference is obvious from looking at them side-by-side. Lucky Charms’ marshmallows are vibrantly (stunningly, even) colored. ALDI’s are subdued. They taste the same, but personally, I’ll pick subdued over vibrant any day when it comes to foods we intend to consume regularly (my kid and I both have known dye sensitivities).

Malt-O-Meal Peanut Butter Cups vs. Millville Cocoa Peanut Butter Puffs (both generics of General Mills Reese’s Puffs): in addition to synthetic dyes, the Malt-O-Meal has quite a bit more sugar and is closer to the flavor I remember from Reese’s Puffs. The ALDI version is less sweet and has more peanuts and cocoa in the ingredients. It reminds me a little of bamba. Honestly, I’m a sugar fiend and prefer the over-the-top sweetness of the Malt-O-Meal, but feel better about buying the more healthful option.

(More comparisons here, but even on the two I’ve mentioned, we don’t agree. That’s a good thing if you’re looking for perspective. 😉 )

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