Experiment report


People who claim being able to identify brands of cola by taste are usually right


5 different kinds of cola drinks (Pepsi, Coke, Coke Light, Diet Coke, Freeway), 5 similar cups, sticky paper, pens, even more paper


So this is something that definitely happened, mainly because I think things too much and my girlfriend doesn't know when to stop me. The setup was: we kept all soft drinks at room temperature (to keep the taste unaltered), and then we split up. In step 1, one of us poured a cup of each softdrink into a numbered cup, and then left the room. In step 2, the other one replaced the numbers with different ones (Roman numerals), and mixed the cup order. This is a single blind experiment, which is as scientific as we could get without involving third parties.

Then the tasting began, which we did literally blind to keep any effect from identifying the color of a given softdrink (just in case). The task was to accurately identify which drink is which. Here are our highlights:

  • Soft drinks at room temperature taste awful.
  • Coke light is terrible even when blindfolded.
  • The Coke brands were identified without a hitch, while one of us mixed up Pepsi and Freeway. This points to our hypothesis being right.
  • If you don't think that softdrinks pack enough sugar, try tasting them at room temperature and blindfloded. We had to implement water glasses in between, because after the second cup they all tasted just like pure, unadultered sweetness.
  • It is curiously difficult to find Pepsi in Berlin. Seriously, give it a try.
  • It would be quite easy to fake an experiment to prove that people prefer a certain brand over the other. Just make sure your brand's drink is cold while the other one is not.

Conclusion and Future work

It is quite possible to identify a brand of cola by taste only. In future work we intend to repeat the experiment, but this time rating drinks in order of preference instead, to find out whether we really prefer the soft drink we claim to prefer.
We also found that the claim "people prefer X over Y in blind tastes" ranges from a filthy lie to useless at best. This result might come as a shock to some of our reviewers. We suggest those reviewers to leave their houses more often.