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July 27, 2002

Weird Science

Today Jean introduced Kelly to the concept of the 'blind taste test', and thereby to the notion of double-blind testing. We'll make a scientist of her yet.

Here's what happened. A while ago Jean asked me what pop I wanted from the store and I said Pepsi (this was while we were travelling, and the given store had a limited selection, basically Coke and Pepsi). She pursued the issue and I declared that Pepsi was 'okay' and that Coke verily 'sucked'. Of course she called me on this opinion, and I declared that I could tell the difference every time, blindfolded in fact.

So here we are. Jean decided to expand the test (no fair!) to five colas, two flavored, as they were the ones handy in 20 oz. bottles at our local grocery store. The brands in question were:

Note the addition of two fruit-flavored colas, further straying from the original claim I made... Anyway, Jean tested Kelly and I, then I replicated the test method with Jean. The test was to place five identical cups with one ice cube and some beverage onto a table. Each cup was labelled with a letter of the alphabet. The cups were filled by random drawings of slips of paper with the name of the soda, to remove bias. Finally a large tumbler of water was available to 'cleanse the palate' between samples.

We each sat down and ran through the samples, writing down our impressions and eventually ranking each beverage. I'll present the results, then expand with a few more comments:

Phin


Flavor

Comments

1

Shasta Cola

Astringent, but not in a bad way.

2

Vanilla Coke

Vanilla? Lemon? Some sort of esther.

3

Pepsi

Okay.

4

Classic Coke

Simple, no extra accents.

5

Pepsi Twist

Nah.

Kelly


Flavor

Comments

1

Pepsi Twist

Smooth with orange, banana, a twist. Had a little

apple. Exquisite!

2

Vanilla Coke

Orangy and lemon.

3

Classic Coke

One flavor, like regular Pepsi.

4

Pepsi

Tastes like Coca Cola.

5

Shasta Cola

Fizzy, bubbly. Delightful.

Jean


Flavor

Comments

1

Shasta Cola

Most cola-like. No added flavors, richest flavor.

2

Classic Coke

Flatter, weaker than [Shasta Cola].

3

Pepsi

Bitter aftertaste.

4

Pepsi Twist

Funny flavor - lemon? Chemical.

5

Vanilla Coke

Disgusting like raw cake batter.

As you can see, Jean and I both chose Shasta Cola as Number One. This came as a minor surprise, but as I'd never had it before it wasn't a dismissal of my previous opinions. And I've always said I prefer a fruit cola over either Pepsi or Coke alone, so I claim to be consistent.

One final comment. Kelly needs a lot more training as a lab assistant, as she was constantly making little comments about the flavors while Jean was taking her test. I finally escorted Kelly from the room so that Jean could complete the test without undue influence. But you might want to factor that contamination into the experiment.

Posted by dpwakefield at July 27, 2002 08:08 PM