Everything Language and Grammar

Poor Communication or Poor Taste Test?

Posted by languageandgrammar on March 24, 2008

Ok, I’ll admit it. This is another post that’s more of an off-topic rant than a true language or grammar post, but, hey, there must have been some lack of communication for my informal Pepsi taste test to go the way it did. That’s a good enough reason for this post to end up on my language blog!

Before I get to the details of the taste test, I’ll need to give a little background information. About ten months ago, I read a story about Kosher Pepsi and Kosher Coca-Cola. The article explained that high fructose corn syrup had replaced pure sugar as a sweetener around 1990 (I don’t remember the exact year) but that the Kosher colas still contained pure sugar. That explains why I’ve thought that the cola that I drank when I was younger tasted crisper and cleaner than the current soda, so I’ve been waiting for Passover with breathless anticipation.

After stocking up with six 2-liter bottles of Kosher Pepsi one day last week, I raced home, dropped a few ice cubes into a glass, and poured a glass of Kosher Pepsi. As I was lifting the carmel goodness toward my lips, I was ready to be transported to the days of my youth.

Mission aborted. The Kosher Pepsi tasted like, well, every other Pepsi that I’d had in the past 18 years. I was shocked. It must have just been me.

With that in mind, I decided to have an informal, unscientific taste test at work–Kosher Pepsi versus ordinary Pepsi. With paper cups half filled with ice, I poured multiple samples of each. This is where the lack of communication came in. The question was simple: Which do you think is made with sugar, and which do you think is made with corn syrup? Simple enough, right? Apparently not.

One person said I don’t think you should have used ice even though I used an equal amount of ice in all samples. I’m not sure what that had to do with anything anyway. Someone else said This one tastes as if it came out of a can, which, to be fair, was a legitimate comment even though it didn’t answer my question. (A true scientific test would have had both either coming from a can or coming from a bottle.)

A common response was I like this one better, which answered the question as well as Do you have any pretzels? would have answered it since this wasn’t about preference but, rather, about whether it’s possible to tell sugar from corn syrup. A particularly well-informed participant, after carefully tasting both samples, asked Why are we doing this again? Drink first–ask questions later. One of the most unusual responses was Do you mean that Jewish people can’t eat corn? Since I know that’s not the case, perhaps our new blog friend, Rabbi Sarah (Frume Sarah’s World), might be able to help explain why corn syrup isn’t Kosher for Passover.

One of the few people who understood the purpose of the taste test and the question asked was someone who, oddly enough, can’t tell the difference between Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. It’s a good thing that I called him out of an important meeting for that type of expertise. Yes, I actually paged him over the building intercom. (The conversation went something like this: He asked You paged me for this? I replied Yes, get the hell up here.) By the way, he correctly identified the Kosher Pepsi, which is more than I can say about myself.

Maybe Kosher Coke is better.

–Paul

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One Response to “Poor Communication or Poor Taste Test?”

  1. Frume Sarah said

    Jews can eat corn! (Better to refer to us as Jews…would you say Christian people or Christians?). At least, all Jews can eat corn most of the time.

    Passover has one main dietary restriction: no leavened products may be consummed during the festival, which lasts 7 or 8 days depending on a variety of issues which I will not go into here! There are five species of grain that fall into this category because they are subjected to the leavening process and they are wheat, rye, barely, oats, and spelt as well as their derivatives. So not only is bread forbidden for the week, but so is vodka as it is typically milled from potato grain. For families who come from Eastern and Central Europe (known as Ashkenazim), the following products are also prohibited: rice, millet, corn, and legumes as well as their derivatives. And corn syrup falls into this category.

    Families who come from Spain, northern Africa, and the Middle East (known as Sephardim) are permitted to eat rice, millet, corn, and legumes.

    So even within the Jewish community, it is a little confusing!

    Now this just applies to the colas that are Kosher-for-Passover. During the rest of the year, Pepsi and Coke are kosher but there is no prohibition against corn syrup. So you may have in fact been drinking Pepsi that was in fact exactly like the Pepsi you always drink :)

    For more information about kosher products, readers might want to take a look at http://www.ou.org.

    Reply: Sarah, thanks for the info! We didn’t have the kosher-for-Passover versus the non-kosher-for-Passover Pepsi (or coke) quandry at our holiday table as a child. I suppose that was before corn syrup took over the world of soft drinks and candy!
    Sherry

    Reply: It was definitely the stuff with sugar–I just couldn’t tell the difference.
    –Paul

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