The hallmark of consumer staples is consistent performance. The goods these companies sell tend to have stable demand, no matter what the economy is doing. This is because demand for non-cyclical products like food, drinks, tobacco and other common household goods rarely wane. Thus, the companies that produce these products tend to be relatively stable in both good times and bad. Investors who are seeking a safe haven during rough times should consider adding a few of these consumer staples stocks to their portfolios. (To learn more, see A Guide To Investing In Consumer Staples.)

IN PICTURES: 5 Tips To Reading The Balance Sheet

Playing It Safe
For decades, blue chip companies with high dividend yields have been affectionately referred to as "widow-and-orphan stocks" because they represented mature, established companies that paid reliable dividends that both widows and orphans could rely on to provide them with a steady income.

Many consumer staples are often placed in this category, but almost any large-cap company that has paid a sizable dividend consistently over the years can probably be counted on to continue doing so. (To learn more about the benefits of dividends, check out Dividends Still Look Good After All These Years).

This combination of factors yield stocks that will let you weather harshest economic conditions.

The Results
We sifted through consumer staple stocks to find some of the highest yielding picks. If it's security and stability you're after, these stocks are worth a look.

Stock Market Cap Dividend Yield
The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG) 179.61B 3.04%
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) 145.17B 2.82%
H.J. Heinz Company(NYSE:HNZ) 15.20B 3.77%
Kraft Foods Inc.(NYSE:KFT) 53.19B 3.81%
Altria Group, Inc.(NYSE:MO) 50.98B 6.22%

The Bottom Line
One of the biggest draws of consumer staples stocks is slow and steady growth. While companies in more cyclical industries can swing wildly based on the economy, the staples tend to move in smaller, more predictable patterns. Boring? Maybe. But for some investors, slow and steady is just right.

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

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