Thursday, October 24, 2013

Taste Test Fun

Eleanor and Sam tasting orange soda.
My brother Josh had the bright idea of organizing a "taste test" as a fun activity for our family.

So at the grocery store with my daughter Eleanor, they browsed the aisles looking for foods to taste test.

Once they decided upon cheese puffs, orange soda, chocolate chip cookies and dark chocolate, they bought three samples of each, all at different price points. For example, for the orange soda we had Frostie as our most expensive soda, Sunkist as our mid-range soda and Big K as our least expensive soda.

Josh also carefully recorded the unit price of each of the items at the store.

Once we had our samples, Josh, Eleanor, my husband Joe and my nephew Sam all gathered around the dining room table for the official tasting. I was the designated taste test official, serving the samples and recording the results.

I started with the cheese puffs and asked everyone to close their eyes and put out a hand for "cheese puff number one." Seeing the color and size of the puffs could sway the results and we wanted the foods judged simply on taste. 

I did tell them I would be serving Kroger brand (the least expensive), Smart Puffs (the most expensive) and Cheetos (the mid-range priced name brand) but of course didn't tell them in what order. I designated each of the brands either sample #1, sample #2 or sample #3. Once they had a taste of each, I asked if they would like any additional tastes.
The brain behind the fun activity, my brother Josh, tasting the orange soda.

The tasters then wrote down what brand they thought matched each of the samples and took turns announcing their conclusions and which sample they thought won the taste test. Distinguishing products is surprisingly difficult.  There were only three times during the entire testing that the tasters correctly matched the brands to the samples.

We had such a blast. A taste test is an inexpensive activity to organize and it's a fun way to bring people together.

The whole gang trying to figure out which orange soda was which and which one they liked best. The soda tasting was the only one that they got to keep their eyes open for - orange soda all looks the same.
We also learned first hand that fancy branding and packaging doesn't mean that a product is better tasting.

It's definitely an activity that we are going to do again and we are already thinking of other foods to taste test. My vote is for ketchup, pickles and cheddar cheese.

Here are our results:

Orange Soda
The least expensive soda, Big K, won three of four votes as the best tasting in our taste test. "It had the most orange flavor," said Josh.

#1 Sunkist (1.35 per pint) - one vote as the best
#2 Frostie (1.98 per pint) - zero votes as the best
#3 Big K (63.2 cents per pint) - three votes as the best

Cheese Puffs
Cheetos was the winner with two votes in this category. Smart Puffs and Kroger each got one vote.
#1 Kroger (3.86 per lb.) - one vote as the best
#2 Smart Puffs (9.20 per lb.) - one vote as the best
#3 Cheetos (5.04 per lb.) - two votes as the best

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cougar Mountain, the most expensive brand in this category, won with two votes. Mrs. Fields and Chips Ahoy each got one vote. Josh said he liked Cougar Mountain because it was "dense and not artificial tasting."
#1 Mrs. Fields (5.04 per lb.) - one vote as the best
#2 Chips Ahoy (3.38 per lb.) - one vote as the best
#3 Cougar Mountain (6.22 per lb.) - two votes as the best

Dark Chocolate
The least expensive brand, Hershey's, won this category with two votes. And, both Eleanor and Joe guessed correctly which chocolate was which in the blind tasting. There was only one other correct guess during the entire tasting and that was Eleanor in the orange soda category.
#1 Lindt (71.1 cents per oz.) - one vote as the best
#2 Moonstruck (1.16 per oz.) - one vote as the best
#3 Hershey's (37.04 cents per oz.) - two votes as the best

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