Opinion Paper

Sociocultural theory and blind taste-tests

James Paul Gee
Reading & Writing | Vol 1, No 1 | a7 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v1i1.7 | © 2010 James Paul Gee | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 May 2010 | Published: 22 May 2010

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James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Arizona State University

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In his entertaining 1986 book, The Real Coke, the Real Story, Thomas Oliver tells the story of the now infamous “New Coke”, a story retold in Malcolm Gladwell’s (2005) best-seller Blink. In the early 1980s, Pepsi began running commercials in which people took a sip from two glasses, not knowing which was Coke and which Pepsi. The majority preferred Pepsi. The Coca-Cola Company replicated these blind taste-tests and found the same result. Losing market share, Coke—long the dominant brand—changed its old formula and came out with “New Coke”, a soda made to a new formula, one that in a new round of blind taste-tests came out above Pepsi. But New Coke was a disaster.Consumers hated it. Coke not only returned to its old formula, but Pepsi never did overtake Coke, which remains today the dominant brand world-wide.


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