11 Products Where Generic Is Just as Good as Name Brand


Effective advertising (or inherited preferences) can sometimes convince consumers that a product from a particular brand is better than the same product made by any other brand. This can be true for things that are made with proprietary formulas, flavors, and manufacturing techniques, but there are times when going generic is just as good.


Drugs that have worn out the 20-year patent granted by the FDA become fair game to other companies looking to create generic versions. This means that, despite differences in appearance (packaging, size, shape, color, etc.), the FDA requires the brand name and generic versions of the same drug to share the same active ingredients, dosage, and usage directions (oral vs topical, for instance). The inactive ingredients may be different, but they don’t affect the medication’s effectiveness.


A head of lettuce with a brand’s logo on it is not inherently better than the lesser-known lettuce three feet away that is 50 cents cheaper. Brands that don’t own their farms pay other farmers for their crops, and while different farms may have different methods for growing and harvesting food, a flashier name doesn’t guarantee you a better product.


Just like drugs, condoms are tested and regulated by the FDA. So whether you’re getting them for free through your local health department or shelling out a few bucks for each one, their contraceptive effectiveness is the same. 


The prices and packaging may be different, and one may use terms that make it sound healthier or more natural, but purified water is the same across the board (keep in mind that mineral or distilled waters are different). Generic or store-brand bottled water will hydrate you just as well.


Feel free to comparison shop when buying table salt. All table salt is made by adding iodine (which helps maintain a healthy thyroid) and anti-clumping agents to highly processed sodium chloride; so unless you opt for sea salt or flavored varieties, all brands of salt will taste the same and have roughly the same nutritional value. 


Like over the counter medication, staple food products like sugar, flour, and pepper are regulated by the FDA.


With milk, you’re often paying for the brand and the distance that the milk had to travel to get to you, not the cow it came from. Just because a brand is local and generic, that does not mean that it was sourced from inferior cows (just keep an eye out for terms like “organic” or “raw,” which denote different types of milk). 


Paying more money for audio/video cables does not ensure better sound or video quality. With things like HDMI cables, there are specifications that have to be met before a company can sell them, so going for the cheaper option is not a bad idea. 

However, the same does not hold true for phone chargers. While it might be tempting to save a few bucks by going generic, tests have shown that name-brand phone chargers are largely superior in terms of quality, safety, and craftsmanship. (You don’t want to risk harming your expensive device to save just $20 to $30.) 


The two factors to consider when buying sunscreen are its SPF rating and whether or not it provides both UVA and UVB protection (usually called “broad spectrum” on the tube). Cover those bases and you can ignore the other stuff. The one caveat is for people with sensitive skin or special skin considerations—they should consult a dermatologist before picking a sunscreen.


Chances are you probably don’t know the company that makes your comb, tweezers, nail clippers, or shower sponge, and that’s not a bad thing. Staple products like these are all made to be cheap, uniform, and easily replaceable.


Despite claims on the packages, expensive batteries do not always outlast their cheaper generic aisle mates. While alkaline batteries have longer lifespans than non-alkaline batteries, studies have shown no discernable difference between generic and name-brand alkaline batteries.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

6 Too-Cool Facts About Henry Winkler for His 75th Birthday

Getty Images
Getty Images

Henry Winkler thumbs-upped his way into America’s hearts as the Fonz in Happy Days more than 40 years ago, and he hasn’t been out of the spotlight since—whether it’s playing himself in an Adam Sandler movie, a hospital administrator with a weird obsession with butterflies in Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, the world's worst lawyer in Arrested Development, a pantomiming Captain Hook on the London stage, or the world's most lovable acting coach to a contract killer in Barry

1. Henry Winkler made up a Shakespeare monologue to get into the Yale School of Drama.

After graduating from Emerson College, Winkler applied to Yale University’s drama program. In his audition, he had to do two scenes, a modern and a classic comedy. However, when he arrived at his audition, he forgot the Shakespeare monologue he had planned to recite. So he made something up on the spot. He was still selected for one of 25 spots in the program. 



In the fifth season of Happy Days, the Fonz grabbed a pair of water skis and jumped over a shark. The phrase “jumping the shark” would become pop culture shorthand for the desperate gimmicks employed by TV writers to keep viewers hooked into a show that’s running out of storylines. But Winkler’s water skiing adventure was partially inspired by his father, who begged his son to tell his co-workers about his past as a water ski instructor. When he did, the writers wrote his skills into the show. Winkler would later reference the moment in his role as lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development, hopping over a dead shark lying on a pier.  

3. Henry Winkler is an advocate for dyslexia awareness. 

Winkler struggled throughout high school due to undiagnosed dyslexia. “I didn't read a book until I was 31 years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia,” he told The Guardian in 2014. He has co-written several chapter books for kids featuring Hank Zipper, a character who has dyslexia. In 2015, a Hank Zipper book is printed in Dyslexie, a special font designed to be easier for kids with dyslexia to read. 

4. Henry Winkler didn't get to ride Fonzie's motorcycle.

On one of his first days on the set of Happy Days, producers told Winkler that he just had to ride the Fonz’s motorcycle a few feet. Because of his dyslexia, he couldn’t figure out the vehicle’s controls, he told an interviewer with the Archive of American Television. “I gunned it and rammed into the sound truck, nearly killed the director of photography, put the bike down, and slid under the truck,” he recalled. For the next 10 years, whenever he appeared on the motorcycle, the bike was actually sitting on top of a wheeled platform. 

5. Henry Winkler has performed with MGMT. 

In addition to his roles on BarryArrested Development, Royal Pains, Parks and Recreation, and more, Winkler has popped up in a few unexpected places in recent years. He appeared for a brief second in the music video for MGMT’s “Your Life Is a Lie” in 2013. He later showed up at a Los Angeles music festival to play the cowbell with the band, too.

6. Henry Winkler won his first Emmy at the age of 72.

The seventh time was a charm for Henry Winkler. In 2018, at the age of 72—though just shy of his 73rd birthday—Winkler won an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on Barry. It was the seventh time Winkler had been nominated for an Emmy. His first nomination came in 1976 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Happy Days (he earned an Emmy nod in the same category for Happy Days in 1977 and 1978 as well.

This story has been updated for 2020.