04/24/2013 09:34 am ET Updated Apr 25, 2013

Coca-Cola Taste Test: Is The Soda Best In A Can, Bottle Or Fountain?

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In the realm of soft drink preferences, there are many great debates. Coke or Pepsi? Regular or diet? What's it called, anyway -- soda, pop or Coke? Those with answers are rarely meek in expressing them. These, they reason, are black and white issues. Choose a side and stick to it.

It was in this spirit that HuffPost posed a new (and equally divisive) question: Which way is soda served best? In a bottle, can or from a fountain? Much as we suspected, the editors were vehemently split.

A blind taste test, we reasoned, would be the only way to reach an answer. We used Coca-Cola as our test soft drink.

But first, a few admissions. Number one, we're talking about plastic bottles, not glass bottles. Secondly, we assume that all bottles of Coca-Cola are alike and that the same goes for cans, but fountain drinks vary by establishment. It seems some stores use more syrup to flavor the drink, some less and mix this with varying levels of carbon dioxide. Fountain sodas are also most often served with ice -- as was ours, picked up from a nearby McDonald's -- which dilutes the drink. That's the appeal of fountain sodas to some, but we recognize that our tests aren't exactly scientific.

That said, our results were interesting. Every editor who sampled the three sodas could easily tell the fountain soda from the rest, and about three quarters of the group found it inferior to the bottled and canned samples.

"Yuck," one editor wrote plainly. "Flat and watery." But other editors found these same characteristics pleasant. "This tastes seriously watered down," an editor admitted. "But because soda is way too sugary, I kind of prefer it this way. This must be fountain. WINNER in terms of drinkability."

Most editors had difficulty discerning the difference between the bottled and canned Coke. Those that could, however, were adamant about the canned version's superiority.

"With bottled Coke, there's a plastic-y aftertaste. And there's a weird gas that seems to sit on top of the Coke and releases in the air the first time you unscrew the top," an editor wrote. "I'll still drink it, but I always prefer Coke from the can. There's something crisper about the latter. And it's more addictive. It's particularly true with diet Coke from a can. It's like crack."

And so, our very unscientific ranking in order descending pleasantness is: 1) Can, 2) Bottle and 3) Fountain. Do you think we got it right?


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The Most Popular Sodas in the World