The “Pepsi challenge” was a marketing campaign by Pepsi, where a person blindly takes sips from two different cups – one of Coke, one of Pepsi – and states which tastes better. The Pepsi challenge showed that people tended to prefer Pepsi to Coke in a blind sip test. This caused significant controversy and even led Coca-Cola to trial a change in their classic recipe, which failed disastrously.
Of course, there are many reasons why the results of this challenge may be invalid, as Malcolm Gladwell explored in his book Blink. The challenge is designed to isolate just a snapshot experience of each drink. Ergo, people tend to prefer a single sip of the sweeter, more citreous drink that is Pepsi, when they may not have enjoyed it as much if they had to drink an entire bottle.
Furthermore, multiple studies and experiments in the marketing field show a psychological phenomenon called sensation transference. This is when our perception of a sense is affected by other information such as the brand name, packaging or even the colour of the food or drink. For example, margarine was originally white but yellow colour was added to make it look more “butter-like”, greatly increasing sales.
This shows how little things that we may find insignificant can affect our decisions and first impressions. Our subconscious mind is a powerful processor that makes rapid assessments from a sea of information, while not bothering the conscious mind. We might buy a certain wine because the bottle looks more premium than another bottle. We may fall in love with someone because of a small detail like the way their nose looks. But at the same time, it can be just as easily misled as it uses only the information given to it at the time.
So the question is not how powerful your gut instinct is, but if you know yourself well enough to trust it.
Coffee is a magical drink that can make a busy person’s morning. Coffee’s stimulant effect is due to the substance called caffeine. Caffeine can make the mind more alert and drives away sleepiness for about 3~4 hours. This is why students studying for an exam or people working late love to drink coffee. There are many students who say they do not like coffee and drink energy drinks instead. These drinks tend to advertise that the substances guarana and taurine give energy, but an interesting fact is that guarana is just a plant where caffeine is extracted from. Taurine has many beneficial actions in the body, but has no effect as a stimulant. Therefore, an energy drink is simply made of caffeine and sugar and holds no advantage over coffee.
Although caffeine is beneficial in moderate amounts, excessive consumption leads to adverse effects. A normal adult can handle up to about 400mg of caffeine. Any more and they could suffer from anxiety, insomnia, headaches, dehydration, increased urination, fever, rising heart rate, stomach pain, nausea and many other symptoms. As everyone’s rate of caffeine metabolism is different, only they know how much caffeine they can consume. Furthermore, the more coffee or tea you drink, you build a tolerance towards caffeine and can consume much more without adverse effects.
The following is a list of the caffeine content in common drinks and foods:
Drip coffee(200ml): 150mg
Espresso(50ml): 100mg (this is because the cups are small, the concentration is about 3 times that of drip coffee)
Caffeine tablet: 100mg
Energy drink(250ml): 80mg
Black tea(170ml): 50mg
Green tea(170ml): 30mg
Decaffeinated coffee(200ml): 10mg
However, the best method to drive away sleepiness is by sleeping. If you are tired, the only way to recover is by taking a 30 minute to 2 hour nap, especially if you will be driving or have a night shift.
There is an extremely entertaining experiment that can be done with two simple ingredients found in the local supermarket: Mentos mints and Diet Coke (it is more effective than original Coke). The experiment procedure is as following:
After opening the bottle, quickly drop the Mentos in to the Diet Coke. Run.
As soon as the Mentos falls in, the Coke spurts foam explosively, which shoots up to great heights. Depending on the temperature of the Coke (the warmer the better) and the number of Mentos mints (it is more effective to thread them and drop them all at once), the pillar of foam can rise to a few metres.
This fascinating phenomenon is not caused purely by a chemical reaction, but has more to do with physics. Mentos mints are coated with menthol, which has numerous microscopic dents. When it enters the Coke, the dissolved carbon dioxide forms bubbles that collect in these pits. As they collect, the bubbles expand until the pressure builds past a certain level, causing an explosion.
The most important point is that if this experiment is not performed outside, one could end up cleaning a sticky room for days.