A casual (non-scientific, but amusing) soda tasting
I gave a talk on Soda Politics to NYU’s long-standing Experimental Cuisine Collective, a partnership between NYU’s chemistry and food studies programs.
I thought it would be fun to start it off with a soda tasting (thanks to Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food, for the photos):
In my book, I talk about research demonstrating that hardly anyone can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, or between colas sweetened with table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. I thought it would be fun to double check.
We asked participants to taste 6 unlabeled soda samples.
The six choices: Coca-Cola, PepsiCola, Caleb soda, Coca-Cola Life, Mexican Coca-Cola, and a duplicate of Coca-Cola.
The idea was to see whether people could tell which was which and whether they could tell the difference between Coke made with high fructose corn syrup (regular Coke), table sugar (Mexican Coke), or Stevia (Coca-Cola Life).
38 people participated. Here are the results:
- Coca-Cola: this was identified correctly by 14/38, but only 10 correctly identified the duplicate.
- Mexican Coca-Cola: 4/38
- Coca-Cola Life: 17/38
- Pepsi: 11/38
- Caleb’s Cola: 29/38 (it’s color is distinctly different)
Only one person correctly identified all six. I, alas, only got one right—Caleb’s. It looks different and tastes less sweet.
You think you can do better? Give it a try.