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Turkey and Bluffing

Our Great Off-the-Shelf Pumpkin Pie Taste Test

November 05, 2000|LESLEE KOMAIKO

You're going to a friend's or relative's home for Thanksgiving dinner, and they actually took you up on your insincere "What can I bring?" offer. You're due in an hour--no time to make something!--so you've decided to settle for a store-bought pie.

With that typical holiday scenario in mind, we asked Jerrilyn Farmer, author of the recently published "Killer Wedding" and two other mystery novels starring Hollywood caterer Madeline Bean, to taste four last-minute-magic pumpkin pies. Farmer, who admits to being seriously obsessed with food, gave each one a look, then tasted them blind.

MARIE CALLENDER'S

Price: $8.95

Appearance: Homemade look, but what's with those dark spots? Works if you're doing a stealth switch; people would think, "You baked for us."

Flavor: Slightly deflavorized, but very traditional.

Texture: Smooth.

Crust: Bland. Horrible.

Overall rating: 7/10

LA BREA BAKERY

Price: $28

Appearance: Very impressive. A creative approach to the classic. For people who think you can never have too much crust.

Flavor: Gourmet-ville. Very natural. Doesn't punch you in the face with sweet or spice. Sweet cookie on top is a nice contrast to light flavor of pie.

Texture: Poufy and moussey. Surprising.

Crust: Very light. Flaky. Buttery. Not soggy, even on bottom, and that's very hard to do.

Overall rating: 9/10

PAVILIONS

Price: $6.99

Appearance: An industrial look. But nice color.

Flavor: Spicy. Sharp. Might please old people and children because even if you smother it with whipped cream or ice cream, flavor will hold.

Texture: Creamy and very smooth.

Crust: Mild and pleasant. It will serve. A little soggy on bottom.

Overall rating: 6/10

TRADER JOE'S

Price: $2.29

Appearance: Charming in a lopsided kind of way. A little asymmetrical.

Flavor: Sweet with a subtle spice. There's something dank about it, dusky. I really don't like it. It doesn't taste very fresh.

Texture: A little dry.

Crust: Not memorable. A little doughy.

Overall rating: 4/10

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