Goldfish Crackers Vs. The Aldi Brand: We Finally Determined A Winner

Goldfish Baked Cheddar Crackers have been a beloved cheddar cracker snack since 1962. According to the Pepperidge Farm website, the cracker recipe is based on a recipe that founder, Margaret Rudkin found while traveling in Switzerland. Since then, the line of fish-shaped crackers has expanded to include at least 27 cracker flavors and specialty shapes. Goldfish crackers are so deeply woven into the fabric of American culture at this point that they're sold and served practically everywhere, from schools and gas stations to airplanes, hotels, and even as bar snacks.

Aldi often takes popular foods and finds a way to sell store brand alternatives for a lower price than their name-brand competitors. While Goldfish are sometimes sold in Aldi supermarkets, Aldi also offers a store brand cheddar cracker under the Savoritz brand name called "Penguins" baked cheddar snack crackers. In design, the crackers look a lot like goldfish crackers that have been stood up on their tails with the addition of a tiny penguin head. While many of the alternative brand food products that Aldi offers are nearly identical to the name-brand products, some of them don't compare. One thing you can almost always rely on is that you'll find a similar product at Aldi and spend less on it than you would at a typical grocery store. To find out how the Penguin cheddar crackers stand up to the incredibly popular Goldfish, we picked up packages of each for a side-by-side comparison, and this is what we found.

Cost and size comparison

Both the Goldfish and Penguin cheddar crackers are available in 6.6-ounce packages. Furthermore, both serving sizes are for 30 grams of crackers, although that same 30 grams is a different amount of crackers for each brand. For Goldfish, the 30-gram serving size is approximately 55 pieces, while the Penguin serving size is only about 52 pieces. In the grand scheme of things, you're getting the same amount of crackers by weight, and 50ish crackers is still a nice snack, give or take 3 crackers. We imagine that there are fewer Penguin crackers per serving because of the additional heads on the penguin bodies, but that's just a guess.

As far as price goes, the bag of Goldfish cost us $2.19, although we also saw them at another grocery store for 50 cents more, at $2.69. The Penguins from Aldi cost a little less, coming in at $1.85, which was only 34 cents less than the Goldfish. Only you know whether or not that 34 cents is worth the trip to Aldi, but if you have to travel farther to get to an Aldi for only one or two bags of Penguins, we'd suggest saving the gas money and time and just picking up a bag of Goldfish at a closer store. On the other hand, if you're picking up a whole list of groceries, it's likely that you'll be saving money on several other items at Aldi to make the trip worth it.

Nutrition comparison

At first glance, both the Goldfish and Penguins look the same nutritionally. Both crackers are 140 calories per serving, and each includes 5 grams of fat, 250 milligrams of sodium, and 20 grams of carbohydrates. The remaining metrics vary only slightly, within a gram or less of each other. Where it really gets interesting is the ingredients list. The first ingredient for both crackers is flour, unsurprisingly, but that's where things start to diverge. The Penguin crackers are then made with oils, natural cheese flavor (which is described as "skim milk cheddar cheese product"), and sugar. The Goldfish ingredients include cheddar cheese, oils, and salt. Both crackers include yeast and baking soda.

Additional ingredient flavorings are also different in each cracker recipe. The Penguin crackers are flavored with more cheddar cheese and malted barley syrup. On the other hand, the Goldfish crackers are flavored with paprika, spices, celery, onion powder, and a vague "spices". We liked that cheese came before oil in the Goldfish ingredients, but that disparity doesn't have an effect on the calorie count. The only difference we see in the labeling that swayed our opinion is that the Goldfish claim to be made with 100% real cheddar cheese and natural flavors, while the Penguin crackers only claim to be "Baked with Real Cheese", although not 100% real cheese. So while we think they're basically the same, nutritionally speaking, we're giving the win to the Goldfish crackers, for claiming to include 100% real cheese.

Taste comparison

Before even tasting these crackers it's easy to see that Aldi wasn't trying to create an exact replica of the Goldfish crackers. The Penguins are similar enough in color and shape that you make the connection, but unique enough in packaging and ingredients that you can tell there's a difference before opening the package. All of which is a good thing, because if you're expecting the Penguin crackers to taste exactly the same as the Goldfish crackers, you're going to be disappointed. Neither of these crackers are bad, but they're noticeably different.

The first thing you'll notice is that the Goldfish are a little saltier, whereas the Penguins are a touch sweeter. This isn't entirely a surprise as sugar comes before salt in the Penguin ingredient list and vice-versa in the Goldfish ingredient list. But if you've spent your whole life eating Goldfish crackers, the difference will probably taste more dramatic than it really is. After a handful or two of the Penguins, you'll acclimate to the taste of the Penguins and the difference in saltiness will be noticeable, but less jarring. Additionally, while the Penguins smell and taste a little cheesier than the Goldfish, they've got less of a rounded savory flavor. We can only imagine that the Goldfish crackers get their distinctive burst of cheesy flavor from the spice blend that's used in the cracker dough. If you're choosing between these crackers on taste alone, we'd encourage you to stick with the name-brand Goldfish.

The soup test

Now, we don't want to alarm you, but if you're just eating your Goldfish straight out of the bag, you're doing it wrong. For some of us, it came as a surprise to realize that Goldfish are actually soup crackers (via Culture Magazine). Armed with that knowledge, it now makes complete sense why they're shaped like fish... because they swim. OK, now that we've let that information sink in, you should also know the original Goldfish crackers aren't even cheddar flavored — they're basically fish-shaped oyster crackers. So we're saving the plain Goldfish crackers for clam chowder, and decided to taste test the cheddar crackers with a cup of tomato soup. We quickly whipped up a pot of Campbell's tomato soup and sprinkled both Goldfish and Penguins on top of each to see how each perform the way they were originally meant to.

The Penguins crackers mixture tasted like soup that was actually topped with shredded sharp cheddar cheese. They didn't get mushy very quickly and were delightfully crunchy for more than 10 minutes while we tasted both crackers. The Goldfish, on the other hand, were equally crunchy after a 10-minute soak but added a nice salty and savory touch to a soup that is naturally a little sweet and acidic. The Penguins crackers are good in the soup, but we thought the Goldfish crackers were better all-around. If you're feeling really adventurous, we'd also recommend buying both crackers and making a custom mix for your soup so you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

So which one is better?

Typically we see a significant difference in price between the Aldi branded products and name brand products, but with these cheddar crackers, that divide wasn't as large as we'd expected it to be. With that said, both the Penguins and Goldfish crackers are relatively low priced already, and there isn't much more cost to cut short of giving them away. If you're buying massive quantities of Penguins, it'll shave a couple of dollars off of your receipt, but ultimately the price difference didn't sway us.

Nutritionally we felt neutral about both crackers. We're not here to tell you whether or not cheddar crackers are good for you, only how they compare to each other — and they're practically tied. Where they stand apart is in the ingredients that make up the final flavorings. The Penguin crackers are a worthy snack, and will certainly appeal to plenty of people. But the task was not to decide whether or not they were good, but if they were better than the name-brand competitor, the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers. And when it comes down to taste, the Goldfish crackers just can't be beaten. Oftentimes our choices for name brands can be attributed to nostalgia, marketing, or even luxury, but in this case, the beloved tiny fish-shaped cheddar crackers from Pepperidge Farm continue to offer a specific flavor at a reasonable price that outshines the competition. For that reason, we're naming the Goldfish crackers our winner.