Those around at the height of Pepsi’s fame will, no doubt, remember the infamous ‘sip test’: the Pepsi challenge. Recently reinvigorated and used to great success by aldi, the sip test is a wonderful piece of marketing in which two or more items are directly compared in a blind taste test. The fantastic thing about this as a marketing technique is that it demonstrates, fairly and squarely, which product tastes best leaving the consumer in absolutely no doubt whatsoever as to which product they should be spending their hard earned cash on forever more.
Being quite a fan of both repetition, research and eating, I have, over the last month, been conducting a similar comparison survey of quiche.
Not just any quiche, oh no. Quiche Lorraine.
I must confess that this is not my first quiche survey. A similar study of supermarket quiches in 2008 yielded a incomparable front runner for the quiche Lorraine of the year champion which was awarded to the co-op.
Unsurprisingly, following the survey, I had no desire to eat another quiche for what could possibly have amounted to the rest of my life and avoided it at all costs thereafter.
I had no reason to believe that I would ever feel the way that I did during that short couple of months in 2008 again. All of my repetition tolerance and penchant for creamy, egg and cheese based fillings were believed to have evaporated, or else exploded in the microwave as a quiche does when heated for anything over sixty seconds.
So the autumn of 2015 took me by surprise when, quite out of nowhere, Queen Vic offered me a slice of egg and bacon quiche, and I accepted.
I felt as I had during that short spell in 2008 again: utterly enamoured and delighted with quiche. The heady scent, the rich, cheesy flavour, the blancmange like texture. I was hooked. Again.
I don’t start out looking for things to survey. I do not believe myself one of the imaginary Klump family from Take a Break magazine, considering it my duty to inform the world as to the best tasting anything. It is the inevitable draw of the alternative and therefore it’s comparison which seizes upon me, forcing me to continue on and test all available options.
I have now re-tested not only all of the supermarket options with the additions of posh places like waitrose and marks and Spencer’s but also one purchased in a butchers. I even went as far as making one myself (yes, pastry and everything) which reminded me just how lucky we all are not to have to make everything ourselves any more and how easy we have it being able to pop to asda at three in the morning if we so desire to retrieve a midnight quiche snack.
This all got me thinking about the sip test genius that was Pepsi. You see, the Pepsi challenge was incredibly successful and raised Pepsi up to the dizzying heights reserved only for Coca Cola. Coca Cola did not like this. They did not like it one bit. One can only imagine the tantrums and chairs being thrown in the CC boardroom during Pepsi’s heyday which, amazingly, prompted CC to adjust their much prized recipe in an attempt to compete with Pepsi.
However, gentle reader, CC had made a grave mistake in altering their recipe to match the sweeter, sip test winning flavour of Pepsi. And the mistake was thus: a sweeter flavour may taste better in sip format, but not over a whole can. Devoted CC fans were outraged at the change and sales dropped amidst riots in the streets (one imagines) until the original CC recipe was restored, people accepted that Pepsi tastes like shit and everyone could get on with their lives.
The sip test may rock the equilibrium but it will never reinvent it.
And so I found, on a grey November evening when I tasted the much anticipated M&S quiche Lorraine with free range eggs (quite rightly) maple smoked bacon, mature cheddar and Gruyere cheese that it is still so: utterly delightful and outrageously tasty at first bite, I struggled to get through a quarter of the posh offering, let alone the half that had set the variable for the other contestants.
So herein lies the lesson: what at first sip may seem sweet, delicious, moreish may not turn out to be so after more rigorous and lengthy tasting. And if you’re looking for the ultimate quiche Lorraine, you still cannot do better than the co-op.