SAN ANTONIO -

For Thanksgiving purists too busy to bake the traditional pumpkin pie, how about taking a short-cut to the store-bought pie?

KSAT 12 News conducted a blind taste-test, serving up slivers of pie from supermarkets and restaurants: Marie Callender's Restaurant and Bakery, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q, HEB Bakery, Costco and a frozen pie from Trader Joe's.

A panel of instructors and students from the Culinary Institute of America, pilgrims who know their way around a kitchen, lent their pumpkin-tasting palates.

Alain Dubernard, CIA's baking and pastry chef instructor who speaks with a French accent, admitted he did not grow up eating pumpkin pie. "But, now I like them," he said.

So, what would the judges be looking for in a respectable pumpkin pie?

"I like a rich, creamy custard and then a very flaky crust," said Lisa Hansen, a baking and pastry student.

"I like mine a littler mealier, not so flaky, but to each his own," Janny Placette, manager of the CIA Bakery Café, said.

The gobbled the samples and then graded on three criteria: flavor, texture and the crust.

After offering a cornucopia of comments from "mushy" to "rocklike"  to "looks like cat food," the scores were tallied.

Three out of five judges agreed the best pie was from Marie Callender's. It was also the priciest at $12.99.

The HEB pie came in a close second, and it was twice the size and half the price, $5.98.

One judge liked the HEB pie best, and another judge picked the slightly spicier $9.49 Bill Miller pie.

"Everyone's taste is different," said Jerry Reed, CIA graduate.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.