Saturday, June 10, 2017

Teen Cafe: Blind Taste Tests

I'm never sure how many teens I will get for the first program of the summer, so I try to plan something that has a good draw, but will work with 2 kids or 50. Food is generally a safe bet!

Have you ever wondered what companies are thinking when they label certain food flavors? As in, just because you make your medicine red, that does not mean it is "cherry flavored", people! (Have these guys ever eaten an actual cherry?!)

Of course, back in MY day, there were Oreos, or there were Oreos. Double Stuff and Chocolate Oreos were a huge uptick in variety. Now, you can find them in just about any flavor you can think of.

And don't even get me started on Pringles! You had your original or your cheddar cheese, buddy, that was it. Kids these days are so spoiled...

Where was I going with that? Oh, yes! How do they choose these flavors, and do they REALLY taste like they say? We decided to find out with some blind taste tests.

Set-up is pretty easy - I just raided the shelves of the local grocery store. One package of each is plenty for a decent sized group. I also bought various drinks and some fresh strawberries to 'cleanse the palate'. (There was a subsequent discussion of how bread, fruit and cheese are used in other taste tests, and the pros and cons of each one. That disintegrated into dump buckets at wine tastings, and...well, we'll just stop there.)

All you have to do is number the appropriate number of plates and dump a package of each:

Then prepare answer sheets for each teen to fill out:

As you can see, for the chips they had to match the chip to the flavor. Pretty much everyone got the bacon and cheddar, chili lime, honey mustard, pickle, and salt and vinegar. NOBODY guessed cheesy Italian, ranch, or sour cream and onion - which I thought was interesting, since those are probably some of the most popular.

Speaking of popularity, while the honey mustard chips sent one young lady scrambling for the strawberries, they were the first to disappear completely. Salt and vinegar and dill pickle were close behind.

For the Oreos, I made them come up with a name all on their own. Smell and color were a big help, so these weren't as hard as the chips. There were only three that they had trouble with:

Cinnamon Roll - several people came up with almond, and I can see that. Everyone agreed that they were really good, whatever the name!
Cookies and Cream - I believe one suggestion was "alien type substance". To me, this is just a weird flavor. If you have a cake or a milkshake that is "cookies and cream" flavored, that means it has crushed up Oreos in it, right? So these are...Oreo flavored Oreos. They crushed up their cookies to make their cookies.
Peeps - Stumped everyone! Most common answer was "birthday cake", but my favorite response mirrored some of my friends' responses to Peeps themselves: 
"That is just...ugh!!! Whoever decided to put this on the market - I should, like, slap them or something!" (back to the strawberries)

Everyone seemed to have fun, and we ended with an informal discussion of what flavors we would like to see in an Oreo. The biggest hit was a pickle-flavored Oreo, which does not seem to exist as of yet (the things I Google after Teen Cafe...). I did find this list of somewhat unusual flavors - how many have you tried?

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