The Pepsi Challenge – A fun speaking activity

Do any of you remember the Pepsi Challenge? This is the challenge where Pepsi would set up a table with two plain cups. One would contain Pepsi and the other Coca-Cola. Members of the public would then take a blind taste test. The Pepsi rep would then reveal the contents of the cups and the contestant would find out if they preferred Pepsi or Coke.


The chocolate challenge

Well this idea formed the basis for a speaking activity in class recently but I didn’t use soda. I used chocolate. The idea came to me when I was listening to a conversation between two of my learners in class a couple of weeks ago. They were talking about preferences and were discussing which brand of chocolate they preferred. There are several popular brands of chocolate here in Japan, but two of the most popular are Meji and Ghana. One student was insisting that Meji chocolate was the best and the other adamantly disagreed. She was convinced that Ghana was much better. What struck me was how passionately they were defending their favorite brand. I thought it would be a lot of fun to try the Pepsi Challenge but use chocolate.


Preparation for the challenge

Before class, I prepared two containers with broken up pieces of chocolate. I also prepared some hand sanitizer and tissue paper. I planned my activity to begin with quick discussion of preferences. I kept the topics very general at first such as do they prefer winter or summer. And, would they prefer to go on an active or relaxing vacation. I then made the choices a little more specific and started to introduce brands. Next, I put the class into small groups and they researched and discussed consumerism and brand loyalty. Dreamreader has a great lesson on consumerism here if you are interested. Once they had finished, they shared their findings with another group.


Organization of the challenge

Next, I introduced the Pepsi Challenge. I explained what it was and what happened and then played a couple of videos from YouTube. (There are lots on there to choose from!) After watching the video I explained that they would be taking a challenge with the two brands of chocolate. First, they had to decide which brand they liked the most and why. Then, in pairs, the learners would take a piece from each of the containers. First, their partner would close their eyes and open their mouths. The learner would then pop a small piece of chocolate into their partner’s mouth. They would then repeat with the other brand. Their partner then had to state which they preferred.


Reflecting on the challenge

Once everyone had taken the challenge, I asked them to write a little about the experience. For example, which brand did they originally say they preferred and why, what happened in the chocolate challenge and had they recognized their favorite brand?


I think it was an interesting activity and went down well. The class certainly enjoyed the chocolate challenge. For one, they got some free chocolate! Many of them actually chose the brand that they least preferred as the best tasting chocolate, so their writings included some interesting thoughts on brand loyalty and why they were attracted to certain brands. I think it helped to raise a little awareness.


What do you think? Have you tried any similar activities? As always, I would be happy to hear from you. I always enjoyed reading your responses!