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Old 9th May 2007, 02:00 PM   #1
Wheezebucket
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Coca-Cola Experiment Question

My friend and I were having a discussion about the differences between canned coke and the fountain coke from McDonalds. I hate coke from the can, but I love their fountain version for some reason. He doesn't think I could differentiate between the two in a taste test, so we want to try it. What's the best way to go about testing this out?
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Old 9th May 2007, 02:06 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Wheezebucket View Post
My friend and I were having a discussion about the differences between canned coke and the fountain coke from McDonalds. I hate coke from the can, but I love their fountain version for some reason. He doesn't think I could differentiate between the two in a taste test, so we want to try it. What's the best way to go about testing this out?
To keep things simple, here's what I'd do:

1) He is left alone in a room with canned coke, fountain coke, a glass marked A and a glass marked B.
2) He pours a little of one in glass A, and the other in glass B. He notes which is in which glass.
3) You sample both, and write on a separate paper which you think is which.
4) Repeat the test a few times.
5) Compare your notes.

It is a less stringent protocol than those usually discussed here, but the case is also much more mundane than usual (unless I underestimate the importance of coke-tasting in your friendship).
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Old 9th May 2007, 02:33 PM   #3
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We're running over to try it now, be back in a bit with the results.
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Old 9th May 2007, 02:38 PM   #4
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Well, this'll be fun to see...
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:03 PM   #5
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Definite difference there I would think.

Different stores/restaurants are going to have slight (sometimes major) differences in the syrup/carbonated water ratio.

Something to try if you can get hold of one is taste the difference between a US Coca-cola and Coca-cola imported from Mexico and see what you think.

I've never actually blind tested them, but I and pretty much everyone else I've known that has tried it likes the Mexican cola better.
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:04 PM   #6
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by rrhoad2376 View Post
Definite difference there I would think.

Different stores/restaurants are going to have slight (sometimes major) differences in the syrup/carbonated water ratio.

Something to try if you can get hold of one is taste the difference between a US Coca-cola and Coca-cola imported from Mexico and see what you think.

I've never actually blind tested them, but I and pretty much everyone else I've known that has tried it likes the Mexican cola better.
there was a whole story on this in our local news. It has something to do with US coke using corn syrup sweetner and I think the Mexican version uses cane sugar.
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:09 PM   #8
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REMEMBER.. both must have the same temperature....
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:16 PM   #9
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I think that there would be obvious variation due to one being mixed at the bottler and the other being mixed at the fountain (and subject to variations across machines).

I second that you make sure that they are the same temperature. Also, do what you can to give them the same carbonation level. The more time goes by, the fountain drink would be much flatter than the canned drink. You may even think about just letting both fountain and can go flat in order to get better results. Unless of course, you think that the carbonation is one of the reasons why you like fountain better.
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:45 PM   #10
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Ok, just got back. I nailed it, 5 out of 5! We thought of the temperature thing too, so we took great pains to ensure equal amounts of ice in both cups. We got some confused glances from the employees, but none of them stopped us.

We've stumbled on a phase 2 of this experiment though, since he doesn't think I can tell the difference between the fountain cokes from Subway and McDonalds - but I think I can. We'll be testing that one tomorrow for lunch.
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by opqdan View Post
I think that there would be obvious variation due to one being mixed at the bottler and the other being mixed at the fountain (and subject to variations across machines).

I second that you make sure that they are the same temperature. Also, do what you can to give them the same carbonation level. The more time goes by, the fountain drink would be much flatter than the canned drink. You may even think about just letting both fountain and can go flat in order to get better results. Unless of course, you think that the carbonation is one of the reasons why you like fountain better.
Yeah, ultimately it's not all that impressive that I nailed it 5 for 5 - it's a pretty obvious difference, even he had to admit, and the carbonation is the biggest part of it. Canned coke also seems so much...I dunno, heavier, more syrup-y, but he disagrees with me there still.

We'll see how I do with fountain-to-fountain comparisons.
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:47 PM   #12
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5 out of 5, that's impressive. Make it 19 out of 20 next time. You guys doing this at work? Hm...
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Old 9th May 2007, 03:50 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by wahrheit View Post
5 out of 5, that's impressive. Make it 19 out of 20 next time. You guys doing this at work? Hm...
We wanted to do more but we ran out of cans of coke, heh.
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Old 9th May 2007, 04:02 PM   #14
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Is there any way to measure CO2 content objectively? (Like would one of those electric pH meters reflect CO2?) I'd think the ratio of CO2 to syrup varies a lot in fountains.

But what do I know, I only drink tea.
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Old 9th May 2007, 06:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Wheezebucket View Post
Canned coke also seems so much...I dunno, heavier, more syrup-y, but he disagrees with me there still.
One would presume fountain coke is watered down compared to the bottled/canned stuff (which, from anecdotes I've heard, is pretty standard practice).
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Old 9th May 2007, 07:12 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Wheezebucket View Post
We've stumbled on a phase 2 of this experiment though, since he doesn't think I can tell the difference between the fountain cokes from Subway and McDonalds - but I think I can. We'll be testing that one tomorrow for lunch.
Blah...our Subways have Pepsi, not Coke. It's not FAIR!!!!
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Old 9th May 2007, 11:14 PM   #17
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I once did a blind test for Coke and Pepsi, since some lunatic claimed that it was impossible to tell the difference between them. They were, of course, wrong.
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Old 10th May 2007, 01:05 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Wheezebucket View Post
Ok, just got back. I nailed it, 5 out of 5! We thought of the temperature thing too, so we took great pains to ensure equal amounts of ice in both cups. We got some confused glances from the employees, but none of them stopped us.

We've stumbled on a phase 2 of this experiment though, since he doesn't think I can tell the difference between the fountain cokes from Subway and McDonalds - but I think I can. We'll be testing that one tomorrow for lunch.
Hypothesis: That the fountain Coke from Subway will be more dilute than the fountain Coke from Macdonalds.
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Old 10th May 2007, 01:22 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I once did a blind test for Coke and Pepsi, since some lunatic claimed that it was impossible to tell the difference between them. They were, of course, wrong.
I took the "Pepsi Challenge" a few years ago, though that was not exactly 'blind'. I cheated, by observing that the non-Pepsi option (I'm pretty sure it was Coke) had larger bubbles, and chose that one deliberately. Obviously their protocols were flawed, since you could observe people ahead of you in the queue seeing the results of their test. (I do have a tendency to not want to leave works unspannered, though it is diminishing with time.)
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Old 10th May 2007, 01:39 AM   #20
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My husband swaers that he csn tell the difference between Irn Bru from a glass bottle compared to a plastic bottle, as he says the glass bottles one tastes much better. I think it is a psychological thing, partly to do with only having the glass bottle in childhood, and partly because the glass bottles are much cheaper and you still get a deposit back on the bottle.

I think I might have to do a blind taste test with him.
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Old 10th May 2007, 03:35 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I once did a blind test for Coke and Pepsi, since some lunatic claimed that it was impossible to tell the difference between them. They were, of course, wrong.
I totally believe you could differentiate, that's easy but could you also name the brand? That is as far as i know much more difficult.
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Old 10th May 2007, 03:57 AM   #22
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The last time I drank fountain Pepsi from KFC, it was an abomination. Too flat, icky.

My impression is that Pepsi Light tastes like Coke, and Coke Light...tastes nothing like. Need to test that.
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Old 10th May 2007, 04:08 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Oualawouzou View Post
To keep things simple, here's what I'd do:

1) He is left alone in a room with canned coke, fountain coke, a glass marked A and a glass marked B.
2) He pours a little of one in glass A, and the other in glass B. He notes which is in which glass.
3) You sample both, and write on a separate paper which you think is which.
4) Repeat the test a few times.
5) Compare your notes.

It is a less stringent protocol than those usually discussed here, but the case is also much more mundane than usual (unless I underestimate the importance of coke-tasting in your friendship).
My best guess would be the ratio of coke syrup to carbonated water is different in the two (a no-brainer if you have ever done fountain drinks) I do not know McDonalds "formula" or CC's can "formula" but I would suspect that McD's is on the side of a slightly greater % of the syrup.
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Old 10th May 2007, 04:31 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I once did a blind test for Coke and Pepsi, since some lunatic claimed that it was impossible to tell the difference between them. They were, of course, wrong.
I did the Pepsi challenge once and when I brought the first cup to my mouth, I could smell that it was Pepsi. I sat it down and picked up the other cup and said "I like this one better". The girl couldn't believe I could tell the difference without tasting it.
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Old 10th May 2007, 04:32 AM   #25
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How about Diet Coke vs Coke Zero? (in UK)
And why do they bother having both labels anyway?

Anyway, none of this is paranormal is it?
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Old 10th May 2007, 05:20 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by TheBoyPaj View Post
How about Diet Coke vs Coke Zero? (in UK)
And why do they bother having both labels anyway?
In the US, too. That's a good question. Their marketing, as far as I can tell, doesn't explain any difference. It's a little unusual to ask people to buy a new product without telling them why it's different form the old product. Maybe it's an experiment.
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Old 10th May 2007, 05:47 AM   #27
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Triangle test

In the future, consider using the more reliable "Triangle Test." This is easy to do, and pretty standard in the taste testing business. Here is a simple description copied from statbasics.com:

In a triangle test, three samples are presented to each assessor. Two samples are identical and one is different in some way. The task for the assessor is to indicate which of the three is the odd one. If the difference is undetectable to the assessor, the probability of making the correct choice is one in three (0.333).
If correct choices are made more than one time in three, the best estimate of the probability of making a correct choice is greater than 0.333 and this constitutes some degree of evidence that the difference between the two types of sample is detectable.
Other things being equal, this evidence is more convincing if there is a greater proportion of correct choices or if the number of trials is greater. If the proportion correct and the number of trials are sufficiently great, the result may be statistically significant.
The triangle test is a commonly-used sensory difference test.
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Old 10th May 2007, 08:27 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by TheBoyPaj View Post
How about Diet Coke vs Coke Zero? (in UK)
And why do they bother having both labels anyway?

Anyway, none of this is paranormal is it?
Diet Coke is the same old ... sweetened with Nutra Sweet (I believe).

Coke Zero is sweetened with sucralose, which has a flavor much closer to sugar than Nutra Sweet does. It's the same stuff that Splenda uses, (again, I believe). I prefer Coke Zero to diet, but either will do. It does not taste like Coke though, as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup do not taste alike at all.

Of course, YMMV

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Old 10th May 2007, 08:36 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by jwr4a View Post
Diet Coke is the same old ... sweetened with Nutra Sweet (I believe).

Coke Zero is sweetened with sucralose, which has a flavor much closer to sugar than Nutra Sweet does. It's the same stuff that Splenda uses, (again, I believe). I prefer Coke Zero to diet, but either will do. It does not taste like Coke though, as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup do not taste alike at all.

Of course, YMMV

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But they also make "diet coke with splenda". Anyway, according to Wikipedia, both have aspertame (nutrasweet) but coke zero otherwise has the original coke recipe, and diet coke does not. Of course, looking at the coca-cola website is useless.
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Old 10th May 2007, 02:15 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Michael Redman View Post
But they also make "diet coke with splenda". Anyway, according to Wikipedia, both have aspertame (nutrasweet) but coke zero otherwise has the original coke recipe, and diet coke does not. Of course, looking at the coca-cola website is useless.
Oops. You are correct, according to the label on my Coke Zero. I wonder why there is no (or very little) aftertaste, like I always associate with aspartame. That is why I assumed it was sucrolose instead.

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Old 10th May 2007, 05:37 PM   #31
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Coke press release:
Coke Zero "will be sweetened partly with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium." No comment on what the other parts will be.

Kind of fits in with their "trade secret" formula, which has been changed a number of times over the years.
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Old 10th May 2007, 06:43 PM   #32
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Another thing about fountain soda is that it uses the local water supply. Basically, you just get the machine, the bags of syrup, and the CO2 tanks. I'd be curious as to what you thought about fountain Coke from a place using a different water supply, because I swear I could drink a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and be able to tell if you had gone to one in Quincy, Braintree, or Weymouth, MA...
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Old 11th May 2007, 08:20 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by LostAngeles View Post
Another thing about fountain soda is that it uses the local water supply. Basically, you just get the machine, the bags of syrup, and the CO2 tanks. I'd be curious as to what you thought about fountain Coke from a place using a different water supply, because I swear I could drink a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and be able to tell if you had gone to one in Quincy, Braintree, or Weymouth, MA...
Here in Germany, they use whatever mineral water they have on the fountain. Most places that sell fountain drinks also have a mineral water tank and tap, and they just mix the coke with that.

Makes for some wild variations in taste. Some brands are very salty or have other pronounced mineral tastes.

Other places just buy bottled coke and pour it in your glass.
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Old 11th May 2007, 11:28 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Lonewulf View Post
Well, this'll be fun to see...
I had an offer to play golf at the most exclusive country club in town and then attend a black tie fundraiser with a Playboy Playmate on each arm, but I turned it down to stay next to my computer and await the results!
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Old 11th May 2007, 11:30 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by rrhoad2376 View Post
I've never actually blind tested them, but I and pretty much everyone else I've known that has tried it likes the Mexican cola better.
I would suggest that it likely because they know which is which when they are drinking them. And there is some sort of cult that has built up over thea years about the Mexican Coke being better, to the point of stores in hispanic areas of Texas and the Southwest bypassing their local Coke bottler and smuggling it in from Mexico. Fortune(?) had an article about it a few years ago.
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Old 11th May 2007, 12:08 PM   #36
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In all honesty, I can tell the difference between diet coke, normal coke and Pepsi by SMELL alone.

By taste, I can tell all of the above, plus if coke has been produced in Germany or UK, poured from a can, glass bottle or plastic bottle. As long as it's all at room temperature.

I drink too much coke.
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Old 11th May 2007, 12:49 PM   #37
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I just saw "Diet Coke Plus" at a gas station. The "plus" is "vitamins and minerals". Strange. I wasn't curious enough to see which vitamins and minerals were. It seems like a product aimed at anorexic fashion models.
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Old 11th May 2007, 12:59 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by LostAngeles View Post
Another thing about fountain soda is that it uses the local water supply. Basically, you just get the machine, the bags of syrup, and the CO2 tanks. I'd be curious as to what you thought about fountain Coke from a place using a different water supply, because I swear I could drink a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee and be able to tell if you had gone to one in Quincy, Braintree, or Weymouth, MA...
Of course, the filtration of the water, the brand of filter, the question of whole house filtration vs. post-mix only, copper vs. plastic pipes, all can change the flavor. More syrup to overcome bad water is a very easy solution, and certainly changes the taste. Not to mention water hardness, brackish water, etc.

(I know, too much info, right?)
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Old 12th May 2007, 04:52 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by The Central Scrutinizer View Post
I would suggest that it likely because they know which is which when they are drinking them. And there is some sort of cult that has built up over thea years about the Mexican Coke being better, to the point of stores in hispanic areas of Texas and the Southwest bypassing their local Coke bottler and smuggling it in from Mexico. Fortune(?) had an article about it a few years ago.
I have not tasted the Mexican coke - but I guarantee that if it is old(cane) formula I can tell the difference. My first "new coke" was in a six pack I had been given at an SF con in Nashville - and I did not know it was new Coke, By complete coincidence, I first tasted new coke when I was a mile from Coke Atlanta. I threw the five and the mostly full one out my window as I was passing CCs offices. There was no question it was bad and new. When "real" Coke came back, it was obvious the taste was no loger quite the same - but at least it was acceptable. Right now, I mostly drink Jones' sodas (they use cane) and things using Splenda.
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Old 13th May 2007, 10:15 PM   #40
arthwollipot
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Originally Posted by Ove View Post
I totally believe you could differentiate, that's easy but could you also name the brand? That is as far as i know much more difficult.
I was able to say "that's Coke" and "that's Pepsi" with 100% success. If I were to do the "triangle test" proposed, I predict that I would not only be able to say which one was different, but I'd also be able to say whether it's two Coke and one Pepsi, or the other way around.

And I think Coke Zero has the same metallic aftertaste that makes me hate Diet Coke. It's slightly less pronounced, but definitely there.
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