New Cheerios

Improv Everywhere Mission

Featuring Agents Lovejoy, Todd, Shpuntoff

New Cheerios.
because all good things…can still get better!

In a taste test between two identical substances, will people still have a preference?  Can people be talked into believing a product tastes a certain way?  Would people actually believe that General Mills was planning to replace Cheerios with New Cheerios (especially after the failed attempts by the Coca-Cola company in the 1980s to market New Coke)?

IE Agents Lovejoy and Todd have an answer for you.

Yes.

Improv Everywhere Mission
Cheerios vs. New Cheerios. The taste test challenge.

Todd and Lovejoy set up their table in the heart of Central Park.  Flyers announcing the ‘New Cheerios Challenge’ were put at the front of the table along with mini-dixie cups filled with Cheerios on one side, and New Cheerios on the other (all cups actually contained regular Cheerios).  Todd manned the table while Lovejoy called people over.  The agents claimed to be from ASA Marketing, a marketing research firm that had General Mills as one of their clients.  Agent Lovejoy informed the taste testers, “New Cheerios is a new product that will be available in the spring.  It’s still in the development stage.  It doesn’t even have a box yet.  General Mills needs your feedback to help them decide how to market New Cheerios.”  If asked what was different about the new product, Lovejoy explained that New Cheerios had more vitamins and less after-taste than regular Cheerios.  After tasting, those participating in the taste test were asked to fill out a short survey explaining their reactions.

Survey Results: True/False

New Cheerios taste better than Cheerios.
75% True / 25% False

I will purchase New Cheerios
75% True / 25% False

The New Cheerios Employee was friendly to me.
100% True / 0% False

I was thanked for my time.
75% True / 25% False

Survey Results: Free Response

How Does New Cheerios Taste?

  • ‘Good’

  • ‘Tasty’
  • ‘Not that different’
  • ‘They’re sort of the same as the old ones, but with a better after-taste’

Is New Cheerios a Good Idea?

  • ‘Yes’

  • ‘No, not really’
  • ‘?’
  • ‘Yeah, they’re healthier and taste even better’

Sadly, the agents were only able to obtain only four completed surveys (most taste testers opted to not fill out the survey) before the Park Ranger put a stop to the fun.

Improv everywhere Mission
“What you’re doing here is really bad.”

The Park Ranger explained that corporations were not allowed to promote their products in the park and was particularly alarmed that food was being distributed without a permit.  Throughout the ten-minute discussion of park policy that followed, the Park Ranger never once commented on the fact that the taste test was for New Cheerios.  He didn’t even notice when all of the dixie cups were emptied back into the same bag.

Improv Everywhere Mission
“I’m going to have to ask you stop.”

Other highlights:

  • Man remarks, “I grew up with Cheerios, man.  I’m sticking with the old school ones.  I don’t need new ones!”

  • Argument breaks out between Park Ranger and bystander (seen in pink shirt, above) who defends our ‘freedom of speech’ rights to be in the park.
  • Not a single taste tester questions the validity of the taste test.

Maybe Improv Everywhere agents should think about getting a permit before their next mission… Nevertheless, mission accomplished.

Epilogue: The Revenge of General Mills

Comments

comments

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18 Responses to New Cheerios

  1. Jestrada says:

    Too bad you didn’t get a chance to let this prank run a little longer. It’s amazing how many people can get fooled by a guy with a tie, ID label, and a clipboard. Penn and Teller have used this to brilliant effect on their “Bullshi*” show. My favorite was their petition to ban di-hydrogen monoxide (get it? Water = H2O). Amazing how many suckers they got to sign that thing.

  2. katy says:

    I am a big Cheerios fan and on a trip including Canada, I found that Cheerios there ARE subtly (but noticably to me) different.

  3. Ryan says:

    ah the power of people with clipboards, just like the man show skit where they get a number of women to sign a petition to overturn women’s suffrage, as they were able to convine them that suffrage was equivalent to suffering. Great stuff, I love you guys (in a platonic way).

  4. Sups says:

    I love you guys in a NON-platonic way.

  5. Laura says:

    Maybe next time try New-Wheeties.

  6. David (Again!) says:

    I love you guys in VERY platonic way

  7. Jerryl says:

    That dude was just pretending to be a park ranger.

  8. Klawzie says:

    Dude, y’all should do this again, so totally.

    Love in a mixed platonic and non-platonic way. I don’t want to talk about it. But offers of unending love are accepted in return. ;)

  9. Sami says:

    People are gullible. I love it.

  10. J says:

    heh excellent prank, better than some of the newer ones even :) you guys should do something like this more often

  11. Gael says:

    Haha! Its so great how people will believe almost anything people say. Like that the cheriose where actualy diferent. They didnt even question it!! ^.^ Speaking of gulible, you know that trick where you say gulible is writen on the ceiling and ppl look up (or most say "Yeah right" and dont look up)? Well, in my 8th grade class room someone in a past year actualy wrote gulible up there and it took me and my friend to convince one of my class mates that it was actualy up there! It was soo funny cause the person did NOT want to look up and be made fun of or something if it wasnt there. You should do something like this, its hilarious, trust me.

    ^.^

  12. linda says:

    You guys should read the Milgram Experiment, see how people REALLY react to authority figures (i.e. people with clipboards)

  13. Saknika says:

    I love psychology in action. xD

  14. Andries says:

    A couple of years ago (when I was 14, I guess) we did a research for General Science involving people tasting Coca Cola and very very cheap coke, and asking which one they liked best. We said the cheap coke was Coca Cola, and that the Coca Cola was the cheap one. 90% preferred the cheap one over Coca Cola when we said it was Coca Cola :-)

  15. ^ @Andries. That’s pure comedic gold. Hilarious what people’ll believe, eh? A similar thing involves deceiving people through color. Someone at my school did a science fair involving vanilla pudding with food coloring to make it look like chocolate, strawberry, and lemon pudding also. When fed all four vanilla puddings that were colored differently (they didn’t know they were all vanilla), people were asked to describe the taste. None of them said vanilla, they all said flavors that corresponded with the colors of the pudding.

    Stuff like that is hilarious if you’re in on the joke.

  16. This is why study volunteers in medical experiments are required to be “blinded” as to what they’re getting. Gold standard is “double-blinding” where even the MDs or the nurses dispensing the treatment don’t know, because patients can pick up on subtle stuff like body language subconsciously. It’s one reason why it’s hard to get good data as to whether acupuncture really works or not.

    Yeah I know I’m off-topic but the great thing about good pranks is that they’re revealing about human nature.

  17. Bridget says:

    you’d think ppl would have more sense come on it can’t taste that different

  18. PoorOldEdgarDerby says:

    It’s been just long enough that younger people may not remember or even have ever heard of New Coke. I heard stories growing up, but I never really believed them.