HEB (and other off-brand / store-brand) Colas

When HEB first appeared, I really didn’t think much of it.  Most of the reason comes from the tiny store they built in Port Arthur.  They bought a parking lot because the building wasn’t for sale, but the parking lot was owned by someone else.  It was a tiny, crappy store.

The HEB stores in the Austin area are amazing.  Like most stores these days, they off a store brand for many items.  In fact, in some cases, you can’t get what you really want because the store brands take up room that other varieties of the standard brand would take up.  Take, for example, Pop-Tarts.  If you want anything other than brown-sugar cinnamon or strawberry Pop-Tart, you’re out of luck at HEB.  Believe me, the store-brand Pop-Tart equivalents are terrible.

The trick economically, is to find as many store brand products as you can stomach.  My family has dropped our weekly grocery bill about $50 by substituting many name-brand items for store-brand items.  Especially things with guaranteed content like cold medications and shampoos.

One of the strangest substitutions like this (at least for me) is HEB Colas.  I tried them for the first time because they were 8 bucks for four 12-packs and cokes were 12 dollars for three 12-packs.  Now that’s economically sound… even if they aren’t perfect.

However, I was amazed.  The HEB cola is full-bodied, not to sweet, but sweet enough and it has that pleasant bite to it that a strong coke has (you know, like the ones from Mexico that don’t have to deal with all the FDA crap).  When cold, they do make have that satisfactory quality of being easy to chug and are generally smooth.

Plus, there are some flavors I like.  I have very rarely seen an HEB cherry coke, but not often.  The Dr. Pepper equivalent (Dr. B of all things) is excellent and really tastes better (and is smoother) than Dr. Pepper.  The HEB Orange Soda isn’t perfect.  I find it a little too sharp and tangy to be really satisfying.  The sugar content is a little high too.  My wife loves the things though.  I tolerate them so I get a case every now and again.

The story only gets better…

I’m approaching middle age (approaching like a skydiver whose chute has failed to open) and I now have a very sedentary job (welcome to the cube farm).  So I’m a little concerned about my expanding middle section.  I’ve tried diet Cokes before and found them nauseating at best.  So one day, while Lexie and Xander were out and about, I grabbed a $0.50 20-ounce HEB Diet soda.  I was amazed!

It totally lacked that bitter aftertaste from Diet Coke.  In my opinion, it is actually smoother than any regular cola.

So, I have switched entirely to HEB Diet Colas (with half of my colas being the caffeine free variety)… yes, I’m getting older dammit.

Thank you HEB.  My waist line, my family, and my pocket book appreciate the HEB Colas.  I used to spend five dollars a week on cokes (5 20-ounce).  Now between 5 and 4 dollars (depending on the sales) will get me over two weeks of drinks (24 12-ounce drinks at two a day means 12 working days of cokes for the same price).

Try store-brands, find the ones you like and stick with them.  I’ve dropped my grocery bill 33%.

~ by OgreMkV on December 20, 2009.

6 Responses to “HEB (and other off-brand / store-brand) Colas”

  1. Thank you for your commentary. Do you think that name brand products offer any value-add above and beyond what you might find in a generic product? If so, can you give me an example of a name brand product that you buy that is better than its generic equivalent?

  2. There are a few name-brand products that (too me) are very different than the off-brand equivalent. Pop Tarts spring to mind immediately and Oreo cookies too.

    I’ll add the off-brand Flintstone type vitamins are very, very different from the name brand version.

    So, yeah, there are a few, but not too many.

  3. I can tell you with 100% conviction that many private label colas ARE Pepsi. How do I know? I’VE SEEN IT. Several of the local bottlers produce not only Pepsi but local store brands. How? They stop the line, change the label, and start the line back up.

  4. Interestingly and further evidence that John Harris is correct…

    a recent add in the local HEB page has a comparison test between Coke Zero and HEB Cola Zero calorie… since when does a house brand challenge a name brand? Interesting though.

  5. More often than not, when you see a local store say “compare to” on one of their private label products, it IS the national brand, just in a PL package.

  6. The only place that I can buy Red Creme Soda, Dr. B, and Strawberry soda. They are my all-time favorite sodas. H-E-B forever!

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