From the Detective Files: The Great Soft Drink Mystery

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Doctor Q, Jun 21, 2006.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #1
    A crime is reported :mad:

    My coworkers and I share a supply of soft drinks. Last month, one of them mentioned to me in passing that his Diet Pepsi wasn't very good, or else his taste buds were having a day off.

    The plot thickens :eek:

    A week later, a different coworker said the same thing about her Diet Pepsi. Being a programmer, I'm used to solving problems step by step, so I tried a Diet Pepsi. It seemed ok, so I suggested that they each try one from their supplies at home. They did; one said it tasted odd at home, while the other said it didn't, so I wasn't sure what to conclude. We thought that perhaps Pepsi had tinkered with their formula, but we hadn't heard any news about that. Maybe there was a bad odor in the office that was influencing people's taste sensations, even after they went home? Maybe they both imagined it or one was influenced by the power of suggestion when the other complained?

    More clues :confused:

    Then, late last week, a can of MY favorite, Diet Dr Pepper, tasted bitter to me. I asked yet another coworker, who also likes Diet Dr Pepper, and he said he thought he was crazy because he discovered that he didn't like Diet Dr Pepper anymore, but realized when I asked him that it was the drink's problem, not his.

    So it wasn't the power of suggestion and four of us couldn't have had the same imagined sensation.

    Clearly, two different major soft drink companies wouldn't be tinkering with their formulas at the same time, so we starting suspecting that a batch of drinks had gone bad in our shared refrigerator. But I never heard of soft drinks going bad like this.

    I looked at the lot numbers on the sides of the cans, but they didn't seem to mean anything. And the listed ingredients (eww) hadn't changed, although phrases like "artificial and natural flavors" might remain the same even if they changed which types of chemicals they used for those flavors.

    The formal investigation :cool:

    Today we did side-by-side taste tests of the cans we had left vs. some we just bought at the grocery store, and confirmed that the former tasted less flavorful, more astringent, closer to Diet Coke than Diet Pepsi, while the latter tasted the gool ol' way we remembered.

    I had looked at the lot numbers, but I discovered that the cans also have expiration dates, on the bottoms, in MMMddyy format. It turns out that our supplier (a warehouse place) had sold us expired soft drinks! We called and complained and will get replacements. And it seems that one coworker had old cans at home too. Case solved!

    One for the files :)

    We might have thought to check the dates in the first place, but taste is so subjective that each person thought "it's just me" before we saw the pattern and I started playing Sherlock Holmes. And none of us realized that soft drinks expire.

    Interestingly, some of the non-diet sodas from that warehouse, which other coworkers drink, had also expired, but nobody noticed a difference in taste. Perhaps their ingredients have a longer shelf life.

    Soft drinks aren't nutritious anyway, but I didn't know they turn downright evil if they sit around too long!

    Postscript ;)

    I have retained full rights to this detective story for when the movie comes out. Who will play me and my three coworkers? Maybe we can get Jack Black to play the warehouse delivery guy. Should I be played by Denzel Washington or by Tony Shalhoub? I hope it won't be Rick Moranis!

    I can now move on to the next mystery: why the touch-sensitive elevator buttons blink on but don't stay on when you poke them swiftly. If they sense your touch enough to react, why don't they stay on?
     
  2. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor

    WildCowboy

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    #2
    Your role will definitely be played by Angela Lansbury...no doubt about it.
     
  3. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #3
    Cool story :D

    Because then you could send the elevator to every floor of the building by accidently brushing the buttons. That way it has to be a deliberate action. :)


    As far as soft drinks are concerned...try this.

    Take some Sprite (or any other clear drink), add some red, green, yellow, blue, whatever, color to it, and put a little of each color in unlabeled bottles. Then have people taste test each one. People love that green soda, but the red one is nasty! :p :D
     
  4. DeSnousa macrumors 68000

    DeSnousa

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    #4
    I think your role would best be played by Austin Powers :p ;)

    [​IMG]

    Loved the part where you were trying to crack the code, did you come up with any thing at all with the number?

    Thanks for making my day :)
     
  5. Doctor Q, Jun 21, 2006
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011

    Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #5
    Actually, I'm speaking of the "call" buttons outside the elevator (just a choice of UP and DOWN) on each floor.

    No, so I might have to go see The Da Vinci Code again.
     
  6. OutThere macrumors 603

    OutThere

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    #6
    That really is a mystery! :confused:

    I bet they're taking your fingerprint every time and need more than just a little tap to sense it. :D
     
  7. Unorthodox macrumors 65816

    Unorthodox

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    #7
    I have some cans of ginger-al in the basement.
    I think their about 15-10 years old.
    I was going to use them when I got sick....
    There goes my theory that canned soda lasted forever.
    Now Im afraid that I'll get get more sick.

    You should be played by Harrison Ford. ;)
     
  8. mpw Guest

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    #8
    You should've called me.

    Being a Coke addict I'd have been ideally placed, maybe not as lead agent but possible some sort of junior CSI (QSI?)

    It's was/is my party trick to identify different Cokes. Now obviously Diet vs Regular is easy for anybody, but I can spot Caffeine-free and different factories.

    I don't imagine they import Coke to the US but here you never know (unless you read the small print on the label) where your Coke comes from locally we get import Coke from the UK, France, Belgium, RSA and Morocco that I've seen and they all taste slightly different as does US Coke, which is slightly less sweet than the UK.

    I'm yet to find anyway to make money from this talent, damn the outlawing of traveling freak shows!!:mad:
     
  9. EricNau Moderator emeritus

    EricNau

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    #9
    I was at my cousin's house about 2 years ago, and got a soda from her mini-fridge in her game room (pool table room). It tasted awful! I looked at the bottom and it had expired in 1997 (about 8 years prior).

    They don't play pool much. :p
     
  10. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #10
    Not to get all scientific or anything like that...

    According to an old reserach paper, Determination of Aspartame and Its Breakdown Products in Soft Drinks by Reverse-Phase Chromatography with UV Detection, by Wing-Sum Tsang, Margaret A. Clarke, and Frederick W. Parrish:
    A rapid and simple analytical method is presented for the determination of aspartame and its breakdown products in carbonated soft drinks... . Four breakdown products were identified and their relative proportions determined. No aspartame condensation product, such as benzaldehydeaspartame, was observed. The data showed that aspartame is relatively unstable in carbonated soft drinks over extended periods of storage, and that the breakdown products from hydrolysis and cyclization accounted for the aspartame lost.​
    I've also learned that aspartame breakdown can produce small amounts of aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine, which may be a health risk. So toss those old diet drinks you find.

    Reading medical reports about food additives is usually a hair-raising experience. If you like deep-fried Cheese-Twinkie rinds, I suspect it's best not to know what they're made of.
     
  11. Kwyjibo macrumors 68040

    Kwyjibo

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    #11
    I thought this thread was going to be about the pop / soda / coke controversy ... thats a great thing to argue about when you're in an altered state ...
     
  12. Boggle macrumors 6502

    Boggle

    #12
    Ok, so incredibly not fair! I learned about Aspartame's behavior in carbonated water from my old gf's dad who is a chemist out in Columbia, MD! Arrrgh. :eek: Sooooo, given your timely ability to know and explain things b4 anybody else can figure them out, I'm gonna have to go w/ Shalhoub.
     
  13. eva01 macrumors 601

    eva01

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    #13
    I love that diet sodas get broken down into formaldehyde in the body
     
  14. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #14
    A valuable lesson learned. Whenever you ask for canned soft drinks, say "I'll take a Pepsi, and please hold the aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine."

    [​IMG]
     
  15. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #15
    but that's 0 calorie formaldehyde! mmmmmmm so you can get your cancer but keep a nice, thin figure!
     
  16. Applespider macrumors G4

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    #16
    Diet Coke in the UK is overly sweet. I prefer the Euro Coke Light
     
  17. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #17
    It's a different formulation from the normal Coca-Cola syrup with more citrussy flavours... if you want something that tastes like Coke with no calories try Coca-Cola Zero.
     
  18. jelloshotsrule macrumors G3

    jelloshotsrule

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    #18
    0 Calories, but a hand in giving you another big C... ;)

    apparently coke zero is better than diet or the splenda style diet. they all scare me personally! :eek:
     
  19. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #19
    IMHO, Coke Zero does indeed taste better than Diet Coke. It tastes a little plain (not a strong flavor), but it has none of the "off" taste of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, so for a 0-calorie cola, it's one of the better choices.

    And since it's a newer product, you aren't as likely to find a can of it from the year 1999! :D
     
  20. Applespider macrumors G4

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    #20
    Hmm... looks like I'll have to go in search of Coke Zero.

    And yes, it might kill me quicker but hey, pollution, coffee, alcohol, unpasteurised cheeses, mad cow disease or a London bus might get me first.
     
  21. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    #21
    I think this might be more appropriate for his Qness.
    [​IMG]

    Oh it's ever so subtle eh?
     
  22. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #22
    Brilliant post, Chundles. Or, more accurately, brilliant photo edit and routine post. Or, most accurately, brilliant idea for a photo edit and good photo edit and routine post. Thanks!

    But that still assumes that my role is played by Austin Powers. But aren't characters in movies usually played by actors, not played by characters played by actors, unless it's one of those movie-within-a-movie movies? (Although even that doesn't quite explain Being John Malkovich or American Splendor.)

    And who will play Mike Myers playing Austin Powers playing me when they make a movie about this thread about the original soft drink mystery? Would any of you get to play yourselves as thread participants, or would we need stunt-posters for reasons of safety?
     
  23. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #23
    I found a can of Coke Zero in our work vending machine this afternoon and it's definitely much better than Diet... now to hope that they keep stocking it and it's not an accidental tray of them...;)
     
  24. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #24
    I've taken to checking expiration dates on soft drinks now.

    A warning: If you flip a can over, read the date, flip it back over, and then open it, that's akin to shaking the can, and we all know what happens if you do that!
     
  25. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #25
    I don't think it's been mentioned above, but expiration dates are only part of the story - if soda has been exposed to excessive heat, it degrades quickly.
     

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