In honor of National Spaghetti Day, the IN team chose to celebrate the best way we know how: with a marinara brand test. Armed with three well-known marinara brands, we boiled up some pasta, grabbed some forks, and ate ourselves into post-lunch nap. Just kidding; we’re pasta-professionals.
- Newman’s Own – $2.69
- Bertolli – $2.59
- Rao’s – $7.39
These three brands were chosen due to their brand recognition, in-store availability, and perceived quality. Additionally, it was important to us that we select options that occupied different brand spaces. Newman’s Own has a positive message behind the sauce and uses its profits to support children who face adversity. Bertolli totes a reputation for authenticity without breaking the bank. Rao’s has a higher price point and a reputation of elevated quality.
As usual for our brand tests, we ensured anonymity by prepping the sauces and pasta in unmarked, single-serve dishes and placed them in front of our testers. They were then asked to rank the candidates 1 to 3 (most to least favorite) and provide their reasoning.
Our team judged the sauces based on visual appeal, texture, and flavor.
It turns out people were looking for a thicker sauce that could hold fast to the pasta as well as flavor cues in the form of herbs or veggie pieces. Bertolli stood out due to the visible herbs which added an elevated look to the sauce, while the thickness of Rao’s appealed to the testers.
Popular opinion on texture trended toward a more robust, chunkier sauce — which was achieved by Bertolli and Rao’s, while Newman’s Own was described as “too smooth” or “watery” by a few of the testers.
This category was the most polarizing for our testers. Newman’s Own on its own was a good, standard marinara sauce. When compared to the other two options, however, it did not have enough to set it apart to be the favorite of any of the testers. While some loved the salty, zesty flavor of Rao’s, some were put off by it. The same could be said for Bertolli’s sweet, herby profile.
As the dust settled on the battle of the sauces, one brand emerged victorious. To the surprise of few, Rao’s defended its higher price point by being the office favorite. Bertolli took the second-place podium, with Newman’s Own trailing in third place.
We love setting up and executing these kinds of tests, and we’re always eager to dive into different product categories. Be sure to reach out if there’s ever a topic we can research for you!