Over at Serious Eats, Kenji Lopez-Alt really outdid himself this time: "The Food Lab, Drinks Edition: Is Mexican Coke Better?"
I suspect anyone reading this is at least superficially aware that Mexican Coke is made with sugar and that American Coke is made with HFCS: Kenji set up a daunting battery of tests to determine which tasters preferred.
So, Coca-Cola Company, here is what you need to do to provide your valued customers with the ultimate Coke experience: Bottle American HFCS-sweetened Coke in Mexican Coke bottles, and just tell everyone it comes from Mexico. ¡Que refresco!
Anyone care to dispute his methods or results?
Some major problems with his methodology....
1) He should have a control group of people who are not Coke drinkers. People tend to prefer what is sensory familiar to them, albeit marketing, packaging & other factors can change this. What his experiment may have proven is that people used to HFCS Coke prefer that absent other cues.
It also doesn't take to account how palettes grow over time. An American teenager might prefer an Oscar Meyer wiener over Parisian style chunky Pate... but perhaps in a decade of learning & growing that preference might flip around. A missing element of the study is to track the same people over time after being exposed to both types of coke.
2) As any pretentious wine drinker would assert... the drinking vessel makes a difference... the glass bottle may not just be a visual cue it might provide a different aroma hence flavor.
3) What bottler did the Mexican coke come from? There are notorious differences in carbonation & sweetness between the two major bottlers & the regional guys. One thing I have always prefered about coca cola bottled in coast Mexican states (for example Arca found in Veracruz) is that is intensely carbonated, and a bit less sweet than most coke. Whereas I am not a fan of coke bottled by FEMSA