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Restaurant Reviews

Taste Test Thursday: Apple Pie

D Magazine staffers tried a handful of apple pies from grocery stores in town. Here's what happened.

October is National Apple Month. What is National Apple Month, you ask? I’m not entirely sure. But I do know that I like apples. And more than apples, I like pie. I’ve yet to find a flaky, succulent circle of happiness that I wasn’t eager to shovel into my mouth; from rhubarb to arguably the best pie on earth — chicken pot pie. So, for this week’s taste test, D Magazine staffers tried a handful of apple pies from grocery stores in town. I didn’t think it would be fair to include luscious, gourmet pies — I’m talking to you Emporium — in the ranking.  The pies varied in texture, flavor and price (ranging from $3.99 to $14.99) but only one reigned supreme. Here’s what happened.

The pies:

A. Albertsons
B. Sprouts
C. Central Market
D. Whole Foods
E. Kroger

(I tried to get an apple pie from Trader Joe’s, but they were out)


Tasting notes:

Albertsons ($8.99):

  • Tastes like a Mrs. Baird’s fried pie.
  • Way too tart. Too bad, because I like the crust.
  • Gooey rinds, chalky crust.
  • There’s no such thing as a bad pie. This is certainly fine; a chipped paint framehouse in an an abandoned field, but somehow zoned into a remarkable school district.
  • Whoa! Really sweet! It’s like a punch to my tastebuds.
  • A little too heavy on the crust, but great flavor.
  • Prettiest by far. Now, we’re eating pie! Not too much filling, letting the apple shine. The apples are slightly overcooked but it’s good.
  • A little sour. Apples seem undercooked, but the crust is good.
  • The apples are tart and crisp. The filling is pretty syrupy and there’s a bit too much of it. That makes it have an odd texture, but the sweetness balances out the tart. The crust is perfectly flaky, but it tastes store bought. Still, solid.

Sprouts ($3.99):

  • I thought it would be too much filling, but it’s not as sweet. Crust is flaky and well-done.
  • This one tastes almost like cider in pie form. It’s not tart at all but isn’t overpoweringly sweet and has a nice cinnamon kick. The crust is bold and has character.
  • Mushy and kind of weirdly medicinal. Not sure why.
  • Too bland, not enough apple flavor.
  • That’s more like it. Nice, balanced and very tasty. My favorite crust.
  • Nice spice blend. Crust tastes like the kind my grandmother used to make.
  • Smooth. The apples, the filling and the crust are beautiful. Amazing!
  • This tries a little too hard. As if someone took a bulk package of Mrs. Baird’s pies and dumped them into a crust.
  • Nice crispness to the apples.
  • The best crust and the right amount of sweet.

Central Market ($14.99):

  • Apples are overcooked and sauce has too much clove. Crust is pretty good.
  • Too much pie, not enough apple.
  • This one’s way too damn sweet for me.
  • Visually very different. Really nice spices and flavors and the apples melt in your mouth.
  • Holy cow! The crust on this looks like it’s been through a paper shredder. Also, BORING favor.
  • Way too much cinnamon. Nasty!
  • Someone has gone mad with the spices. Like a land mine went off in your mouth, but it contains scented Christmas wreaths in lieu of explosives.
  • Mushy apples, bland fillings… I hate the sugar grains on the crust.

Whole Foods ($12.99):

  • Tastes like a pie but with a better crust. So, it is perfect.
  • Super gooey
  • Crust is too soft. Overall kind of forgettable.
  • Filling is too sweet. Like Mott’s apple juice. Crust is flaky, though.
  • OK.
  • This has the most flavorful apples, but the sugary crust is a bit overpowering. Combine this one’s insides with B’s crust and you’ve got the winner.
  • While the heavy granulated sugar sprinkle on top of the crust is appreciated, this is a bit too much like a cobbler. A pie should proudly differentiate itself, not dissolve into a pitch-like non-solid. The apples have a Del Monte-like tinge that I find off-putting.
  • Sugar crystal overload on the crust, scraped the roof of my mouth.
  • Good texture.
  • Kinda tastes like pumpkin pie.

Kroger ($6.99):

  • Strange, disconcerting non-apple fruity notes.
  • Tastes like a green Jolly Rancher.
  • Too much egg wash. Off-puttingly sweet.
  • Tons of filling in this one. Apples taste like apple sauce.
  • Like someone almost got lucky with their first pie, but not quite.
  • E is a little simple. I want to be wowed, but is this from Whole Foods? I’ll be embarrassed if it’s from Central Market.
  • Fairly nondescript. Apples are on the tart side but they’re not firm like A’s were. Ho-hum.


And the winner is…

Pie B! By a lot, actually. The $3.99 pie from Sprouts dominated this week’s taste test challenge. Have a favorite apple pie? Let us know in the comments below.

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