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Stephen Colbert did again last night, making me laugh out loud in the dark, way past my bedtime.  He told America about a recent study done by the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) titled, "Can People Distinguish Pâté from Dog Food?"  I think this would be perfect for an Ig Nobel Prize...


This is pure science at its finest.  Taken from the Abstract:

"Considering the similarity of its ingredients, canned dog food could be a suitable and inexpensive substitute for pâté or processed blended meat products such as Spam or liverwurst. However, the social stigma associated with the human consumption of pet food makes an unbiased comparison challenging.

To prevent bias, Newman's Own dog food was prepared with a food processor to have the texture and appearance of a liver mousse. In a double-blind test, subjects were presented with five unlabeled blended meat products, one of which was the prepared dog food...


The samples included:

  1. Canned Turkey & Chicken Formula for Puppies/Active Dogs (Newman's Own® Organics, Aptos, CA)
  2. Duck liver mousse ("Mousse de Canard," Trois Petits Cochons, New York, NY)
  3. Pork liver pâté ("Pâté de Campagne," Trois Petits Cochons, New York, NY)
  4. Supermarket liverwurst (D’Agostino)
  5. Spam (Hormel Foods Corporation, Austin, MN)


The methodology included:

"Each product was pulsed in a food processor to have the consistency of mousse... allocated to serving bowls, labeled A - E, garnished with parsley to enhance presentation, and chilled in a refrigerator to 4°C."

After fully disclosing the aim of the experiment--to evaluate the taste of dog food--18 subjects volunteered. Subjects were college-educated male and female adults between the ages of 20 and 40."


The results? 

Paradoxically, although 13 of the subjects ranked the dog food lowest, only 3 of them correctly identified it as dog food.  More diligent research will be needed to determine why they didn't choose the worst sample as dog food.  Here is, in my opinion, the best fact that Stephen Colbert unfortunately didn't go into:

The experiment was carried out between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM on 31 December 2008 in Brooklyn, New York.

The study was done on New Years Eve!  I can only wonder if alcohol was involved.  How else would you get 18 college-educated men AND women to agree to taste 5 sample meats and try and determine which one was the dog food?

And if you were wondering (as if you'll take these group's judgement to heart), the duck liver mousse won.


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHumor, Videos