Double-blind cola test

The final analysis

Two of my coworkers decided today after lunch that it was time to solve the age-old question: Is it possible to actually detect different kinds of cola just by tasting them.

In the spirit of true science (and a hefty dose of Mythbusters), we decided to do this the right way and to create a double blind test. The idea is that not only the tester has to not know the different test subjects, but also the person administering the test to make sure that the tester is not influenced in any way.

So here’s what we have done:

  1. We bought 5 different types of cola: A can of coke light, a can of standard coke, a PET bottle of standard coke, a can of coke zero and finally, a can of the new Red Bull cola (in danger of spoiling the outcome: eek).
  2. We marked five glasses with numbers from 1 to 5 at the bottom.
  3. We asked a coworker not taking part in the actual test to fill the glasses with the respective drink.
  4. We put the glasses on our table in random order and designated each glasses position with letters from A to E.
  5. One after another, we drank the samples and noted which glass (A-E) we thought to contain what drink (1-5). As to not influence ourselves during the test, the kitchen area was off-limits for everyone but the test subject and each persons results where to be kept secret until the end of the test.
  6. We compared notes.
  7. We checked the bottom of the glasses to see how we fared.

The results are interesting:

  • Of the four people taking part in the test, all but one person guessed all types correctly. The one person who failed wasn’t able to correctly distinguish between bottled and canned standard coke.
  • Everyone instantly recognized the Red Bull Cola (no wonder there, it’s much brighter than the other contenders and it smells like cough medicine)
  • Everyone got the coke light and zero correctly.
  • Although the tester pool was way too small, it’s interesting that 75% of the testers were able to discern the coke in the bottle from the coke in the can – I would not have guessed that, but then, there’s only a 50% chance to be wrong on this one – we may all just have been lucky – at least I was, to be honest.

Fun in the office doing pointless stuff after lunch, I guess.