Ah childhood, when nothing could ruin our day faster than running home from the school bus parched from an afternoon of four square or tetherball only to throw open the fridge and find…Dr. Thunder.
Though we whined and complained that we could taste the difference, our mothers stood firm that the too-sugary-not-sugary-enough-just-tastes-wrong feeling we were experiencing was all in our heads.
But was it? Does soda really taste better when it’s a “brand”?
One German study suggests that brand name soda does taste better, but not because of a better drink recipe. Brand-name drinks actually have a physical effect on our brains. Researchers gave test subjects the same soda four different times, labeled as Coke, Pepsi, River Cola (a generic German soda), or a brand they said they were testing called T-Cola. All of the subjects expressed a preference for the cola labeled Coke or Pepsi.
Interestingly, when the scientists scanned the subjects’ brains using MRI technology, drinking what they thought was name brand soda created activity in the reward center of their brains. But drinking what they thought was generic soda triggered activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex of test subjects’ brains, the part of the brain used to make value judgments.
Scientists believe that when we use “brand name” products, we already assume that they’re of good quality, so the part of our brain used to assess whether something is worthy of appreciation shuts off, so we take more pleasure in the experience.
So even if we’re sure that we could always taste the difference between our favorite soda and an impostor, the study proves that we probably can’t. So if you want to save a buck or two, click through our slideshow to see some off brands that have proven to be just as satisfying as the more recognizable stuff, either through blind taste tests or enthusiastic fan bases. Think you could taste the difference?
7 Select Orange Soda
While participants in a Huffington Post taste test didn’t love 7-Eleven’s orange flavored beverage more than Sunkist, they did prefer it to much pricier sodas like San Pellegrino and Izze (which came in last).
In another Huffington Post blind taste test, users preferred the Walgreen’s brand cola to Coca-Cola, preferring its “subtle, smooth” taste.