Published November 1, 2003. From Cook's Illustrated.
Do we need to leave Philadelphia to find the best cream cheese?
Supermarket shelves aren't exactly overflowing with cream cheese options. Whenever we needed cream cheese in the test kitchen, we instinctively reached for Philadelphia brand. But was Philadelphia the best, or just the most familiar and widely available?
To find out, we gathered all the types of cream cheese we could find: a paltry five. We tasted them plain and in our New York Cheesecake. Tasters judged the cream cheeses on richness, tanginess, creaminess, and overall quality, and one product swept both the plain and cheesecake tastings in all categories. Though some liked the easy spreadability of our whipped sample (we let the tasters try the cream cheese on bagels after they tasted each sample plain) and most were enthusiastic about our second-place finisher, overall one brand was appointed as the cream cheese of choice in the test kitchen.
Although one brand was the clear winner, all but one of the products tasted are recommended.