TASTE
01/17/2012 10:50 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Cream Cheese Taste Test: Is Philadelphia Really The Best?

When people refer to cream cheese, they are almost always talking about Philadelphia. The Philadelphia brand has over time become synonymous with cream cheese itself. This product has been on the market for over 100 years -- and was first produced in New York despite what the name may suggest -- and so its strong position in consumers' minds is understandable.

But, of course, with this kind of cheese monopoly in play, the editors at Kitchen Daily wanted to know: is this sort of blind devotion really deserved? Do we buy Philadelphia because it truly is the best, or just because it has been around the longest? Can people taste the difference between Philadelphia cream cheese and a generic brand?

Before we get to the results of our taste test, here are some facts:

Philadelphia:

Mottos: "Spread a little philly on it." "Philly is a little taste of heaven."

History: First produced in New York in 1872 by dairy farmer William Lawrence. Despite being produced in upstate New York, it was given the name Philadelphia because at the time that city was considered to be the home of top quality foods.

Generic Cream Cheese:

Brands: Nearly every grocery has their own brand, such as Shoprite, FoodTown and Kroger. For this taste test, we used Organic Valley Cream Cheese.

History: There are references to cream cheese as early as 1583. And since then there have been many cream cheese fabricators, but few have made a name for themselves as Philadelphia has.

The Verdict:

Twenty-four editors blind-tasted the two cream cheeses, side by side, and...

  • 50 percent were able to identify Philadelphia cream cheese from the generic cream cheese brand.
  • 57 percent preferred Philadelphia to the generic brand.

Here's what our tasters thought:

Philadelphia Cream Cheese: "Sweeter." "Tangy and creamy.""Has a nice tanginess." "Smoother.""Grittier and less rich than the other cream cheese." "A little thinner tasting." "Overwhelming." "Got more character. Maybe the word is tangy."

Generic: "Salty." "Too sweet and dense." "Thicker and richer. Would much rather put this on my bagel." "Seemed Buttery." "Creamier."

Overall Comments: "Very similar tasting." "Ehh." "Both pleasantly creamy."

In Summary: The comments clearly suggest that there is a real taste difference between Philadelphia cream cheese and other cream cheese brands -- one that sets this cream cheese apart from its competitors for better or for worse. Philadelphia has a tanginess to it that more than 50 percent of people just love, and the other half... well, not so much.

What is your favorite brand of cream cheese? Let us know in the comments below.

As always, our taste tests are in no way influenced by or sponsored by the brands included.

One of our favorite ways to use cream cheese (besides smothering it over a New York bagel) is to make cream cheese frosting to top cakes and cupcakes. Learn how with the video below.

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