Mesh Labs Study: Colored Goldfish Crackers


Last night I happened upon a carton of colored Goldfish-brand cracker snacks at a party. So naturally, I set up a single-blind ABX test to determine if it is possible to distinguish the colored fish from their “naturally” colored friends simply by taste. Color-taste correlation studies have been attempted before-I’m sure everybody remembers the controversial Von Braun M&M experiments in the 1960s-but the results have always been tainted by the fact that most of these studies were bankrolled by Big Dye.


For my study I employed the assistance of a single volunteer, who received no compensation other than approximately fifteen Goldfish crackers. Standard ABX test procedures were followed: the subject was asked to close her eyes, was given a Goldfish known to be uncolored (the “A” sample), and then given a colored Goldfish (“B” sample). The test administrator informed the subject of the specific color of the colored Goldfish, but the main focus of the study was to simply distinguish colored from uncolored samples. Determining a specific color by taste was outside the scope of this study.

Once the A/B calibration was completed, a pseudorandom sequence of Goldfish crackers was given to the test subject one-by-one. The subject was instructed to make a best effort at determining whether the Goldfish was colored. After each trial, the subject was informed of the true coloration of the cracker. This breaks from typical ABX protocol, but was deemed acceptable since an A/B calibration was not performed before each individual trial.

Approximately 15 trials were performed. Detailed data was not recorded since a pen and paper was not readily available. Even without detailed data analysis, it was clear that the test subject was unable to correctly guess the color of the Goldfish more than 50% of the time. This percentage, of course, indicates zero correlation between the color of the Fish and the taste.


They all taste the same.

Unrelated:Poutine sure has been coming up in conversation a lot lately, hasn’t it?