Interesting, but nothing spectacular to report. I arrived the requested 15 minutes early, looked back down when I left the elevator – include the picture here just to orient you.
Made my way to the Champagne Room, which was full of scientific-looking white-coated characters setting the place up.
Directed to the sign-in table, then found myself waiting with other – we discovered comparing notes – veteran buyers of fresh orange juice. My group included 22 citizen scientists, one of whom did not show up. I believe there were five groups at other times, so more than 100 subjects tested. The room had a distinct elderly feeling – who else is free for such adventures in the afternoon? and a well-spoken prosperous aura floating around – who else can afford to buy fresh orange juice? We even had a mink coat in there, an old-fashioned touch – but it was, after all, 8 degrees out and snowing.
Over the course of two hours we evaluated three different juices, with ritual crackers and spring water to clear the palate between tastings. Obediently we considered color and answered questions, then in unison we inhaled and recorded our judgment of fragrance before drinking. And then “please put booklet one aside and turn over booklet two but don’t open it yet” it became apparent what this was all about.
Eventually they did reveal which had been the just-squeezed orange juice as we knew it -- #321. Turned out every person in the group had preferred it. The other ojs were also fresh, but each had been treated for longer shelf life with something called
flash-freezing. Everyone found them “chemical”
and “metallic”, and people complained of an
unpleasant aftertaste. I didn't finish the third one.
Then we spent another hour answering questions in those booklets. How much would you be prepared to spend for a half-gallon of #321? #682? Why? Would you expect to find it in the dairy cases or with the produce? Why? If it had a longer shelf life would you buy several bottles at once? Why? If studies said the treated juice was just as nutritious, would you believe them? Why? How much pulp do you prefer – none, some, a lot? Why?We ended up with open discussion, recorded of course. It became apparent that even if the flavor could remain the same, nobody in that room wanted fresh orange juice that lasted longer, or would be prepared to buy it at any price. Evidently – as with a soap bubble or fireworks – evanescence is part of the appeal.
And then I took my $75 gift card downstairs and bought $81 worth of food, including a $10 half-gallon of untreated fresh-squeezed orange juice.