Friday, January 29, 2010

Flashback Friday

I saw something today and it made me flashback to the old Pepsi Challenge. Do you remember that campaign? It was a "blind taste test" hosted by Pepsi where participants were given two small sips of soda - one was Pepsi and one was Coke - and they would select which one they preferred. After the answer was given, the contents of the cups were revealed, as was your 'preference.' Of course, there are a jillion things wrong with this type of sample testing, but as it turned out, the taste of Pepsi was overwhelmingly preferred, so Pepsi took their 'Challenge' all over the country.
I remember first encountering it at Wild Rivers waterpark. There were maybe 4 or 5 tables lined up, each with 2 or 3 staffers, waiting to give us kids of Wild Rivers the ultimate challenge! We were so excited to go and try it because the prize wasn't just a can of Pepsi (which was typical elsewhere) but it was a coupon for a soda (presumably Pepsi) that came in a souvenir sippy cup. I have never been much of a Pepsi fan, but let's face it - when you're 12 and you're staring down a coupon for a free soda, you're willing to compromise! So my friends and I went and they all chose Pepsi and got their cups. I, however, failed the challenge.
Usually, these tests tried to influence you toward choosing Pepsi, but in this case I think the free cup promotion was overwhelming the staff, and they were deliberately setting it up for the 'challengers' to fail. Of the two samples, one was warm and flat. The other was cold and tasted freshly opened. I assumed the Coke would be the warm/flat one, but I was wrong. Technically, you weren't supposed to try again, but I snuck back later in the day and did. I psyched myself up for it: the gross one would be Pepsi. So I tasted... and they were the same. Hand to god, those two cups were exactly the same. Both were totally flat, but not warm. I took small tastes back and forth and couldn't decipher a difference. I ended up choosing B and, again, selected Coke.
I wasn't the only one who chose "wrong" - it was happening a lot more now, I could see along the tables. There were only a few people here and there who were walking away with souvenir cups (and free drink refills).
I gave up and went back to enjoying my day of waterslides and chlorine-burned eyeballs. Plus, I'd seen the hassle my friends were having with those cups. You can't take them on the slides, and no one wanted to pay for a locker just to store a cup, so they would stash them in the bushes and pick them up between slides. Such a pain in the neck.
In the end, I walked away happy. Because I did (and do!) honestly prefer the taste of Coke. I'm not so much of a snob that if Pepsi is the only thing available, I won't drink it, but generally in a restaurant or something I will switch to iced tea instead of drinking Pepsi. Yes, there is a difference. So at the end of the day, I felt kind of proud. Like I was some noble brand loyalist, defending the good name of Queen Lady Coca Cola by failing the Pepsi Challenge.


Giggly said...

Hee-hee, I love the taste of coke too. Pepsi is too sweet and flat. lol

Randy loves to do these taste tests with drinks. I think he was heavily influenced by those commercials as a kid. :)

jessica fantastica said...

I did the Pepsi Challenge at the Wet & Wild (or was it Wet 'N' Wild?) waterpark. I am a Pepsi drinker, so I thought I'd get it "right" for sure. Of course I got it wrong, and it still stings to this day! *sob* ;)


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