It’s an argument that’s older than most people, which is due to more than your taste buds or just which restaurant you’re at, as there is a reason why Coke and Pepsi taste different.
Why does Coke taste different than Pepsi?
While some people will always complain about having to drink Coke from the fountain at a McDonald’s or only having the option of Pepsi at KFC, most people will drink either with no complaints.
In fact, since both beverages have similar chemical compositions, studies have proven that most people can’t even tell the difference in a blind taste test.
So, for some people, what exactly makes Pepsi taste different from Coke? Of course, there are the individual flavors that each brand uses, which see Pepsi having more of a citrus taste and Coke having a vanilla flavor.
Then, just like the marketing campaigns (with Coke being available in every country outside of North Korea), the nutritional content of the two is also quite different.
Given its sweeter taste, Pepsi has slightly more sugar, which also equals more calories. It also has more caffeine, too, so look to Pepsi if you’re choosing a cola over an energy drink.
But, back to the aforementioned studies, which have proven that the two taste the same to most people in blind taste tests.
The studies have shown Coke and Pepsi are,
…special in that, while they have very similar chemical composition, people maintain strong behavioural preferences for one over the other”.
Initially, the test measured the behavioral preferences objectively, done by administering double-blind taste tests, with the results showing that the subjects were split equally in their preferences for Coke and Pepsi (“in the absence of brand information”)
Coca-Cola and Pepsi are nearly identical in chemical composition, yet humans routinely display strong subjective preferences for one or the other.
This simple observation raises the important question of how cultural messages combine with content to shape our perceptions; even to the point of modifying behavioral preferences for a primary reward like a sugared drink.
We delivered Coke and Pepsi to human subjects in behavioral taste tests and also in passive experiments carried out during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Two conditions were examined: (1) anonymous delivery of Coke and Pepsi and (2) brand-cued delivery of Coke and Pepsi.
For the anonymous task, we report a consistent neural response in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex that correlated with subjects’ behavioral preferences for these beverages.
In the brand-cued experiment, brand knowledge for one of the drinks had a dramatic influence on expressed behavioral preferences and on the measured brain responses.
So, what does that mean for the argument as to what taste better? Nothing, as even with this knowledge, the debate will never end.
Not to start another debate, but have you ever heard someone order a Jack and Pepsi?