Coke vs. Pepsi: influencing preference

I succumbed to the siren’s song of the Egg McMuffin the other day, and as I was waiting in the drive-through, I zoned out staring at the soft-drink dispensing machine. Coke.

McDonald’s and Coca Cola have been happy bedfellows for as long as I can remember. And I started thinking about the relationships between fast-food restaurants and soft-drink preferences. What effect do they have on each other?

People’s soft-drink preferences seem to be passionately felt, as evidenced by Ian’s tweet later the same day:
tweet

Where does that come from? Is it truly a matter of taste preference? Or is it something deeper, driven by familiarity?

When I was younger, my fast-food restaurant of choice quickly became McDonald’s. I even worked there as a teenager. Ergo, I drank a LOT of Coke. I have always preferred Coke.

I know other people whose fast-food restaurant of choice is something else – A&W, KFC, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen. And their soda of choice is usually the one served by those eateries.

So then I start thinking about cars, and how car companies (especially the domestics) try to get college students into one of their cars ASAP, because Ford knows if you start off driving a Ford, you’re likely to keep driving Fords for many years. Does it work the same with soda?

And in terms of fast food/soda preference, what comes first, the burger or the beverage?

Or do I just need to lay off the McFood, because it’s clearly addling my brain?

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16 thoughts on “Coke vs. Pepsi: influencing preference

  1. Susan Low

    We ALL need to lay off the McFood – that’s a given. But I don’t think soda preferences are driven by fast-food preferences for me. Rather the opposite actually – I like Coke, ergo I prefer to eat at restaurants where they serve Coke. Similar to how (in the days when I went out to eat sitting down) I would go halfway across town to patronize a restaurant/pub that serves Strongbow on tap.
    .-= Susan Low´s last blog ..Adventures In Home Ownership I: Kitchen Plumbing =-.

  2. donna

    Nothing to do with fast food preferences for me — I’ve never worked in food, fast or otherwise… and my preference was set long before I was old enough to have a job anyway. While I was growing up, my mother drank diet coke like it was water and therefore I did too. I got accustomed to the taste, and that was that. I don’t drink diet coke because I’m on any particular diet, or because it’s somehow “healthier” — it’s obviously no better than regular coke, just fewer calories. (stomach cancer later is preferable to obesity now, I suppose…)

    Diet pepsi, coke zero, regular coke, regular pepsi… all taste super sickly sweet to me, and not in a good way. I’ll get sprite or iced tea or something if diet coke isn’t available.
    .-= donna´s last blog ..I may not have the proper level of respect for my employer =-.

  3. Renee

    It’s true, my first car was a Hyundai – possibly the only reliable Hyundai in the Northern Hemisphere at the time, so when I researched “car” + “cheap” and it was between Hyundai and Honda, I chose a Hyundai. Also, it has cup-holders for my Diet Coke.
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..tattoo =-.

  4. Renee

    And hey, Sue, that’s the number one reason why I’m not on speaking terms with Taco Bell anymore – since they merged with KFC they serve Pepsi. Eugh. =)

    (In actual non-company-funded blind taste tests, people choose Pepsi like 80% of the time… but Coke is the market leader. Proof that marketing rules the world.)
    .-= Renee´s last blog ..tattoo =-.

  5. Deanna

    I remember about a decade ago, when the Pepsi Taste challenges used to be at every event I went to. For those who don’t remember: It was a kiosk where there would give you two cups of “cola” in a plain paper cup with no labels, and you would decide which one you liked better Pepsi or Coke. The idea was that you wouldn’t be influenced by your previous sodapop judgments and obviously choose Pepsi. Lo and behold, every time I would go to these Pepsi Challenges, when they would reveal the bottle of pop that I chose, it inevitably would be Coca-Cola.

    Interestingly enough at the time, I had no real preference to which pop I drank, I was not raised with pop, and didn’t start drinking it until my later teens. The funny part of the Pepsi Challenge was that they were so desperately trying to get people to like Pepsi, that they inadvertently gave me the idea that I liked Coca-Cola! So basically I haven’t really ever gone back to Pepsi, and have become one of the many people who love Diet Coke!

    As for my fast food preference, well McDonald’s only! It is the best of both worlds, Coca-Cola & Chicken Strips with an addicting Honey-mustard sauce.
    (and for the record – I drive a Ford LOL)
    Cheers!
    .-= Deanna´s last blog ..Decision Time: Panasonic or Audio-Technica =-.

  6. Chris

    Not a McDonald’s eater (it’s been years), not really a cola drinker. Growing up, my two favourite fast food places were McDonald’s (Coke) then Taco Bell (Pepsi), though that was unrelated to the cola served. I don’t really drink any soft drink with regularity – tastes like gross sugar water.
    .-= Chris´s last blog ..Performance Loss due to Project Switching =-.

  7. Riann

    I’m a pepsi person, for no real reason. I don’t avoid places due to their cola of choice, but I will dine out specifically where I can find cider on tap. Sue and I work well together that way.
    .-= Riann´s last blog ..Taking in the view =-.

  8. Brook

    I’m mainly a Pepsi person, but only because Riann is. Before we started going everywhere together, I didn’t really have a preference. Now, if I’m given the choice, I’ll choose pepsi simply because I’m accustomed to it. I’ve recently started drinking Pepsi Max (no calorie, extra caffeine) mainly for the effect it has rather than the taste.

  9. Beth

    I’m a diet Pepsi drinker through and through. My parents always had Pepsi at home and I think I just became accustomed to the sweeter taste (and hint of lime) that Pepsi has.

    With respect to the blind taste test, I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink and in it he describes a reason why although Pepsi always wins the blind taste test (with significantly more people preferring Pepsi), but Coke sells more product. Rather than marketing (which is what I thought it was when I first heard about Pepsi winning the test so handily ever time), Gladwell talks about the nature of the blind taste test – it’s a sip taste. But we typically drink pop solely via sips. And apparently if you give people whole cans to drink as they naturally would, more people do prefer Coke. So it’s not that people buy Coke despite liking Pepsi better. It’s that the blind taste sip test is a poor approximation of real world pop consumption.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Procrastination Doesn’t Pay =-.

  10. chris

    I’m a Pepsi person. (I think it’s due to Pepsi’s blue labeling vs. Coke’s red.) As such, every time I go to a restaurant and want a carbonated beverage, I order a Diet Pepsi if the brand of beverages isn’t clearly indicated. Sometimes if they don’t have Pepsi, the server/cashier asks if Coke is ok, and sometimes they just bring me whatever diet cola they have. I don’t care either way *that much*.
    .-= chris´s last blog ..via Snuzzy =-.

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  12. Hannah

    I very rarely drink cola of any sort, and didn’t as a child either – but to me, Coke is synonymous with cola, and Coke is what I’d order in a restaurant if I were in the mood for a dark fizzy beverage. I probably wouldn’t notice if the waiter surrepticiously served me Pepsi instead, but I’d probably still call it Coke even if someone told me it was Pepsi. If I were reaching into a cooler and saw both Coke and Pepsi, I’d reach for the Coke first. In my mind, Coke is cola; cola is Coke.

    As for fast food restaurants, I can’t remember eating fast food much as a child, but it was probably McDonald’s that we ate at when we did. Has that influenced my choice of cola? Possibly, but I think it’s more likely that I prefer Coke simply because I don’t think Pepsi had much of a toehold in the market when I was growing up. I associate Pepsi with the southern US. I’ve heard it’s sweeter and they prefer sweet drinks farther south – I wouldn’t know, as they taste pretty much the same to me. I figure my preference is probably based as much on marketing as anything else. Plus, I like the colour red. It’s as good a reason as any.

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