The supply chain shortage just got fowl: Chick-fil-A is limiting the number of sauces it's giving out to customers because of limited stock.
This is a funny entry from Trader Joe's, a.k.a. the place we go to for frozen food and tiny cups of free coffee. This marinara wins a couple of points because of value — a jar, while small (18 oz., instead of the typical 24 or 25), costs only $1.39. And the taste is not bad, if a little herb-heavy. What's interesting is that while many jarred marinaras commit the sin of being too sweet, this one is nearly too salty.
Very good packaging on this — the label has a classy, Art Deco-ish feel. I'm not sure what involvement, if any, John Muir's family had in the development of this company, which started in 1991 and was acquired by General Mills in 2000, but the name holds weight, especially in California. I imagine John Muir walking among the sequoias, opening a jar of marinara, sticking a finger in and tasting it. He then strokes his beard and nods sagely.
Surprise! This wasn't nearly as bad as I had remembered — the blessings of low expectations. I anticipated Ragu being too sweet and tasting strongly of tomato paste rather than actual tomatoes. It's still both of those things, just not to the degree I thought.
It takes a cool hand to be one of history's biggest movie stars and have your own food business. But Paul Newman wasn't just interested in the color of money. There's an absence of malice in his wading into pizza, dressings and sauces, and the funds raised for charity prove he's no hustler.
Mezzetta, a California-based company that coined the slogan "Don't Forgetta Mezzetta," makes an excellent sauce, in addition to jarred olives and preserved veggies. This one has a bright, strong tomato flavor and is quite onion-forward (I like that but not everyone will). It has a smooth texture and slightly smoky flavor, and it avoids one of the most common pitfalls that afflict jarred marinaras — not being oily enough. This has plenty of that good olive oil flavor.
Victoria ticks off the biggest and most important checkbox when judging marinara: Does it taste more or less how a simple homemade sauce tastes? This does, and then some. Victoria tastes of tomatoes and olive oil; it's not too sweet and has a fantastic texture — superior to that of Rao's, which I'd say is ever so slightly too thick.
Here's the big surprise of the top tier. Fody specializes in low FODMAP (which stands for "fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols" — there will be a quiz later) food items. Without getting too far into it, a low FODMAP diet can help people with IBS.
If we were judging based on appearance alone, this entry would win. It has a distinctive, wide-shouldered jar and simple gold cap. The label is small and understated, with "Michael's of Brooklyn" written in cursive. The minimal real estate devoted to the label allows shoppers to see the full glory of bright, intensely red sauce.
I'm a little conflicted with this one. I like the flavor, which is tomato-rich and has a surprising, subtle cayenne kick, but the texture is pretty out there. I like a loose sauce. Coppola, who directed the "Godfather" movies as well as the one where a 10-year-old boy has aged to look like Robin Williams, has a sauce that veers into Slush Puppie territory.
Not a bad sauce, and a nice texture, but Lucini tastes a bit raw, like it wasn't cooked long enough, and it could use a little salt. If you like eating tomatoes right out of the garden, this might be for you. There's also a fairly noticeable carrot flavor — not bad, necessarily.