I’m a huge fan of Woodchuck, but at a usual $9 for a six-pack it can get a little bit pricey. So, when I discovered that Trader Joe’s sold a cider called “Newton’s Folly” that was made in the same place (Middlebury, Vermont), was sold in the exact same bottles, had the same ingredient list, but cost $2 less, I got pretty excited. Could it really be true? Was Newton’s Folly just a bottle of Woodchuck with a different label? Could I be saving $2 every time I purchased cider? I set out to find out.
My initial sampling of Newton’s Folly led me to believe that it tasted a lot like Woodchuck, except that it was weaker – almost like it had been watered down somehow. However, I don’t have a particularly refined palate, and as Penn and Teller have illustrated in hilarious fashion, humans are notorious for thinking they can taste subtle differences in food and drink even when they can’t. If I was going to be sure, I was going to need to dig a little deeper.
The first thing I did was a little homework. Newton’s Folly says it’s bottled by “American Hard Cider Company” in Middlebury, VT. Woodchuck is bottled by the Woodchuck Cidery, also in Middlebury, VT. A quick search of the Vermont Secretary of State’s website told me that “American Hard Cider Company” was a trade name owned by “Vermont Hard Cider Company, LLC,” which just happens to also own the trade names “Woodchuck Hard Cider” and “Woodchuck Cidery.” So, that answered at least one question. The two drinks are definitely made by the same company. But are they the same?
Well, unfortunately, there’s a good number of subtle differences between the two products. Although their ingredient list is the same, Woodchuck has a bit more sugar listed on its nutrition facts – as well as 20 additional calories. Also, when poured, they have a definite difference in color… The Woodchuck is a significantly lighter shade of amber than the Newton’s Folly. Which gives us pretty good evidence that they’re not exactly the same.
Whether or not the two items are completely the same isn’t really the important question though. What really matters is taste. If you can’t tell the difference between the two in a blind taste test, you might as well drink the cheaper version – or work on developing a more refined palate. If you can taste a difference, then maybe it’s worth it to spring for the more expensive stuff. So my wife and I decided to put the two beverages to the test.
As you can see from the video, it’s actually pretty easy to tell the difference between the Woodchuck and Newton’s Folly. So, if you’re a Woodchuck fan, you’re probably going to want to stick to the real thing. Unless you really need to save that 33 cents a bottle…