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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Completely Normal Soda Review, and a Goodbye Song

It's been rather quiet in the lab. I think...we may have accomplished much of our mission. We have quaffed--if not all that is quaffable, then at least a whole variety of things. There's been joy. There's been pain. And I might--just might--be ready to go back to finding and actually drinking Weird sodas for a while.

When I started this journey, I had one thing I knew I had to do before it was done. I had to come full circle. Return to my roots. Come back and rejoin the masses. Yes...we must now review some completely normal sodas.

But being who we are here at the Lab, we'll do it with proper respect for science. Surely somewhere Galileo Galilei, Albert Einstein, Rosalind Franklin, Marie Curie, and Aristotle P. Mitzenheimer* will raise a glass of carbonated ambrosia** to us as we hold fast to our integrity, even now.

I've recruited the Kibbitzer-in-Chief to prepare a sample of four sodas:
Regular Coca-Cola Classic from a plastic bottle
Regular Pepsi from a plastic bottle
Mexican Coca-Cola from a glass bottle
Mexican Pepsi from a glass bottle

Each will be poured into a numbered cup, and she will keep the record of which is which. She will lay them out for me, and then ignore me entirely so she can't influence my judgment (it's the closest I can get to a double blind). I'll sample and review each, and try to identify them.

Soda Number One
Color: Brown, with a slightly yellow-green tint. Not promising.
Scent: Sharp, with a bit of chocolate and citrus.
Taste: Kind of thin, actually. A cool beginning without a great deal of flavor. Then a fairly sharp bite, followed by a moderately sour aftereffect. Just a bit of bitter in the aftertaste. Not especially sweet. Note of coffee?
(Later comments from Nazgul and Olorin)
Nazgul: Sweet, kind of creamy. It doesn't taste like Coca-Cola.
Olorin:Tastes smoother than a lot of sodas.

Soda Number Two
Color: Slightly lighter brown, same yellowish tint, maybe a touch less green.
Scent: Distinctly sweet, a bit sharp, smell of orange blossoms.
Taste: A bit more flavorful than #1. Similar cool bland beginning, but a sweeter and more mellow aftereffect with less tartness. Similar bitter tone at the upper back.
Nazgul: This one is more like Pepsi. More citrusy.
Olorin: It's colder than #1. It's more smooth than #1.

Soda Number Three 
Color: Almost identical to #1. Brown, slight yellow-green tint.
Scent: Cool, sweet, not so much floral. More like #1 than #2. Icy?
Taste: relatively quick impact of an orangey flavor, with cola tones. Aftertaste mild, not much bitter. Slightly sticky feel, lingers.
Nazgul: This one could quite possibly be Coca-Cola. Cherry-ish!
Olorin: Tastes a little bit more root-beery.

Soda Number Four 
Color: Same as the others. I think these guys all use the same tailor.
Scent: Fairly sharp, slightly acrid, very cool. Mintier.
Taste: Relatively quick attack with cool, slightly minty and bitter, but quite sweet. Moves fairly quickly to a moderately strong bittersweet high in the back of the mouth. Feels volatile.
Nazgul: Probably the most bubbles.
Olorin: Smooth and bubbly. Oh my. Bubblier than #1, but smoother as well. My favorite.

Honestly, all of these taste pretty similar. I don't have a lot of confidence, but here's my guess:

1. Mexican Pepsi
2. Mexican Coca-Cola
3. Regular Coca-Cola
4. Regular Pepsi

Nazgul's guess:
1. Mexican Coca-Cola
2. Mexican Pepsi
3. Regular Coca-Cola
4. Regular Pepsi

Olorin's guess:
1. Mexican Coca-Cola
2. Regular Coca-Cola
3. Regular Pepsi
4. Mexican Pepsi

 And here's what they really were:

1. Regular Coca-Cola
2. Mexican Pepsi
3. Mexican Coca-Cola
4. Regular Pepsi

Wow. Olorin gets a 0%, I get a 25%, and Nazgul gets 50%. In my defense, I will say that #4 was the one I was most sure of.

From this, I can reach several possible conclusions:
1. It is possible that I suck at this.
2. It is possible that there is actually very little difference between them
3. Pepsi seems to be easier to identify than Coca-Cola.

We all know plenty of people who swear upon anything they hold dear that they have a strong preference for one over the other. When I have run similar experiences with my science students, most of them assure me that they can easily tell the difference...and most of them are wrong.

I don't think I'd give any of them a quaff rating above 2.5 or a cough rating above 0.5. From that, I can conclude that this odyssey has allowed me to experience a fantastic variety of sodas which rise to greater heights (and fall to deeper depths) than those we usually quaff.

As I encounter more wonderful or terrible things, I will be sure to share them with you. Until then, I remain your Quaffmaster, forever willing to quaff it so you don't have to.

"Back to the Lab"
*to the tune of "Into the West", from the Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack*

Lay down your sweet and bubbly drink
Night is falling, you can step back from the brink
Rest now, and dream of beverages of yore
They are waiting, just inside the fridge's door

Why do you weep? Is that Abali in your mug?
No wonder then. That stuff would choke a slug!
Try this cream soda. It's quite appealing.

What can you see, within the bottle?
Why do you cringe in fear?
If it's got chunks, or smells like offal
Quaffmaster's come to quaff it right here.

And as he turns a shade of puce
You can hear him whisper "Get this juice
Back to the lab!"

* All the others had two names.
** "A bit glutinous, but with a nice cherry-pear balance and a bit of divine wrath."


  1. It's been fun, and I'll miss the postings. I'll probably think about this every time I see an unusual soda.

  2. Haha! Aristotle P. Mitzenheimer, oh man... It's been fun. I'll miss these reviews.

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