Shock and Aawe: Study Finds Most People Cannot Tell The Difference Between Pâté From Dog Food

250px-Pates_p1150435250px-Wikilabrador_jardinFinally, some serious academic research. The American Association of Wine Economists have answered that long-standing and vexing question: can people tell the difference between pâte and dog food? The answer in AAWE Working Paper, No. 36, is entitled, “Can People Distinguish Pate from Dog Food?” is no.

For years, I have insisted with my wife that pâte tastes a lot like dog food (while I have never actually tasted dog food, I have been repeatedly kissed by dogs fresh from eating dog food). Now, I have been vindicated. The good people at AAWE gave people the following dishes:

1. Mousse de Canard (duck liver mousse) by Trois Petits Cochons
2. Pate de Campagne (pork liver pate) by Trois Petits Cochons
3. Spam (pork shoulder and ham) by Hormel Foods
4. Liverwurst (D’Agostino’s)
5. Newman’s Own Organic Canned Turkey & Chicken Formula for Puppies

First, it turns out that you can get people to eat dog food in the name of science or $25 bucks. Second, “Only 3 of 18 subjects correctly identified sample C as the dog food.” Six picked liverwurst (which I have also opposed since age 3 as an inedible and evil food stuff).

It is worth noting that 55 percent of the culinary adventurers said the duck liver tasted best and 72% said the dog food tasted worst. However, I still would suggest that paying for something that requires focused taste testing to distinguish from dog food should be set aside for a nice salad and bread sticks.

For the study, click here.

For the full story, click here.

Steven Colbert’s coverage on the report, click here.

30 thoughts on “Shock and Aawe: Study Finds Most People Cannot Tell The Difference Between Pâté From Dog Food”

  1. I’m pretty sure this is more a function of the lack of organ meat in the modern American diet than anything else. Palates tend to adjust diet, not the other way around.

  2. If it hasn’t been banned where you are, it’s on its way…

    ‘Force-feeding’ is practiced, but it does not involve ‘cruelty’.
    Birds don’t have reflexes like we humans.

    And anyone who enjoys fine fresh French cuisine knows it certainly doesn’t look, smell, or taste ‘like dog food’.

    That’s an absolutely ridiculous statement to make.

  3. My wife had been asking me why all of a sudden,I had been slurping all my liqiuds from a bowl.Now I know why.

  4. “Cover and soak shelled pistachio nuts in brandy and dry sherry”

    TO heck with pate I’ll take the nuts!


    “No one should eat pate de foie gras. It involves cruel and disgusting mistreatment of animals who are forcibly overfed and tortured in the process. It tastes like dog food.”

    I kinda think after that story and all the comments, it is a sure thing that none on this thread will consume pate unless home made for the foreseeable future.

  5. No one should eat pate de foie gras. It involves cruel and disgusting mistreatment of animals who are forcibly overfed and tortured in the process. It tastes like dog food.


    Sounds like JT is missing his foie gras…

    Do not despair.

    I also make Spaghetti Caruso with organic chicken livers once ina while.

    Smoked salmon or trout pates are great choices, too.

    p.s.If you really can’t stomach Braunswcheiger liverwurst, skip the second recipe…

    Chicken Liver Pâté with Figs

    From the files of David Scott Allen

    * ½ pound dried calimyrna figs
    * 1 cup ruby Port
    * 1 cup chopped shallots
    * 1 cup chopped onions
    * 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    * 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and halved
    * 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
    * ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    * 1½ teaspoon dried thyme
    * 1 teaspoon dried sage
    * 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

    Cut each fig horizontally into four slices and place in a bowl– add the Port and let macerate at least 1 hour until they are softened.

    In a large skillet cook the onions in 3 tablespoons of the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. In the same skillet, sauté the chicken livers, patted dry, in remaining 3 tablespoons of the butter over high heat, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, thyme and sage and continue to sauté the mixture for 1 minute more–or until the livers are golden on the outside but still pink on the inside. Add livers to the onions.

    Holding a strainer over the skillet, drain the figs, allowing the Port to drain into the skillet. Deglaze the skillet over medium-high heat, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom. Reduce the mixture until it is thick and syrupy and add to the processor.

    Line a 3-cup mold with plastic wrap, and then line with fig slices, pressing them against the plastic wrap without overlapping (cut side always towards the plastic wrap).

    Put any remaining figs into the processor with livers and onions. Purée all ingredients until smooth. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl and let cool. Add the lemon juice, additional salt and pepper to taste and mix until incorporated. Pack pâté into the fig-lined bowl and cover–chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

    To serve, invert mold onto a platter and garnish the plate with thyme sprigs, and serve with thin slices of French bread.
    Wine pairings

    * Red: Light Bordeaux
    * White: Meursault-Les Charmes; Viognier
    * Other: Fino Sherry

    Pâté de Campagne (Country Pâté)

    This is a recipe from Towny’s father, who loved to cook. As a US Ambassador, he regularly entertained, filling their home with hungry guests. This pâté was always on the table when the party began and not to be found by the time the guests had gone home.

    * ½ cup shelled pistachio nuts
    * 2-3 stalks celery
    * 1 large onion
    * 2 garlic cloves
    * ½ pound veal
    * ½ pound pork
    * ½ pound beef
    * 2 eggs
    * Salt, to taste
    * Pepper, to taste
    * Thyme, to taste
    * Allspice, to taste
    * ¾ pound Braunswcheiger liverwurst
    * Brandy
    * Dry sherry

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Cover and soak shelled pistachio nuts in brandy and dry sherry. Puree celery, onion, and garlic; then, place in large bowl. Process the meats, eggs, and all seasonings (except bay leaves) into a ball; this will probably need to be done in two batches. Strain nuts. Add meat mixture to onion-celery mixture and then add nuts. Fold in Braunswcheiger liverwurst into mixture. To test for taste, heat oil in pan and cook a small portion; adjust for seasoning if necessary.

    Place mixture into Pâté pan or baking dish, one quarter layer at a time. Between each layer, drop (bang) Pâté pan on counter to release air from mixture. Place bay leaves on top of Pâté and screw on lid or cover the casserole dish. Place Pâté pan or casserole dish in a pan filled halfway up with water. Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Best if served 24 hours later.

    Serve with crusty French bread, a little Dijon mustard, and cornichons.
    Wine pairings

    * Red: Southern Rhône; Light Bordeaux; South African Pinotage
    * White: Well-oaked California Chardonnay

  7. Maybe cat food is different. I had reason to buy a wide variety of canned cat foods including the ‘expensive’ stuff in little cans and I must admit, opening some of those cans and seeing the color, catching the surprisingly good aroma and feeling the texture, I was tempted. I opted not to but I had to give it a good long consideration. I’ve made pate’s from scratch and what was in some of those little cans looked, smelled and ‘felt’ as good as anything I ever made or bought. The whole experience did kind of put me off pate’s though.

    (The cat liked Friskie’s the best! Nasty stuff- so’s the cat.)

  8. That’s because pate IS dog food…..

    Why would anyone be able to tell the difference?

  9. I think my fellow canines are employed by the industry to taste dog food, as are my feline friends to taste cat food.

    My master was offered a job as a food taster for a middle eastern potentate.

    Funny. He never came back.

    I have been offered a lot of people food in my day. How can you folks stand that repellent stuff?

    “You don’t know that your dog is on the internet?”

  10. “First they didn’t have the bamboo umbrellas for the drinks, and now snails on the plate! Waiter! Get those snails off her plate! Bring us some toasted cheese sandwiches and some new wine! None of that old stuff you keep trying to pass off on us!” – Steve Martin as Navin R. Johnson in “The Jerk”

  11. Now I know why I’ve never liked pates. I had always thought that I lacked refinement.

  12. It’s no coincidence that all one needs to do to turn “pate” into “paste” is simple add the “s.” Now about that escargot…

  13. This makes me wonder who is paid to do taste tests for pet food. I’ve had some difficult jobs in my life, but I would have to be paid a fortune to do that, if I was able to suppress my gag reflex.

  14. My sister brought us back a gift from Fouchon in Paris recently, a package of assorted pate’s. So we got some water crackers, a bottle of Riesling and started in to the pate. The fact that the pate came in little cans that are exactly the same as the cans that Fancy Feast cat food comes in, but with a French label, should have been the tip off. As soon as we peeled the first lid off one of the cans, the familiar texture and aroma of cat food smacked us in the face.

    Ever the adventurous eaters we think we are, we still dipped a butter knife in to the pate and smeared some on a cracker and sent it down the hatch. The first can we sample was pure pork liver, and tasted as bad as it smelled. We gave it one more shot and opened a can that was supposed to be duck liver, after choking that down, we noticed the fine print on the can, although it had duck liver, it seemed filled out with pork liver.

    The two opened cans, with the remainder of “product” in them, found the garbage can. The remaining unopened cans were gifted to a neighbor.

    We can now say that we now know what cat food tastes like.

  15. “Sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie, but I wouldn’t know because I wouldn’t eat the filthy mother-f_ _ _er”

    Jules Winston, of Englewood

    Ditto me with the dog food. But, you know dogs got personality. Personality goes a long way.

Comments are closed.