Hamster on whether organic food tastes better

CooksDen wanted to know whether organic food really does taste better. To prevent bias, they used Hammy the Hamster as a test subject. The video is darn cute. Follow the link for the results of the experiment. "Hammy the Hamster Goes Organic" (via Geek Dad, thanks Shawn Connally!)


  1. Perhaps the Hamster is left handed…

    A true test would switch the left and right positions randomly. Pepsi Challenge was rigged like this. The cup that was easiest to reach typically won the challenge with most participants.

  2. After having witnessed one of these guys eating another one’s brains while it was still alive, I’m not sure I can a hamster’s uh, culinary sensibilities.

  3. Totally agree with tony tarle. The hamster got food first from the organic side, then pretty much kept going back. It remembered where the food was. You need a multitude of hamsters (n=10 at least) and randomly change the side that has the organic…perhaps using this (http://www.random.org/) so you don’t bias yourself. I would imagine there would even be a better, more mathematical way to space the food and hamster so that everything is in the same spot always.

  4. The survey r broke, as at 20:01 GMT.

    Yes I know it’s off topic but there’s no comment thread on the survey.

  5. Hi Kids! Time to learn that science is a soul-crushing descent into nihilsm! To truly validate the results of this experiment, you have to 1) switch the right and left positions of the organic and conventional foods, and 2) test Hammy’s choices when presented with two organic, or two conventional pieces. Stats will then tell you whether Hammy has a preference, by which time you’ll want to be a firefighter when you grow up!

  6. Maybe if we shout they will hear this in the other post.


  7. @ #1
    How was the Pepsi Challenge rigged? I took it way back in the 80s and unlike the Hampster, who only tastes one item each time, you got to taste both sodas. In a taste test, I don’t see why it would matter which was easiest to reach. (both were equally easy to reach from what I remember, being positioned on a table directly in front of the sampler).

    I picked Pepsi at the time but later switched to Coke as my taste buds grew more refined.

  8. If this was not a double-blind study to control for the investigator’s biases then I have no confidence in the results. That is, did the investigator know or not know which piece of food was organic and which conventional when placed in the Hammy’s cage?

  9. @TroofSeeker,
    Are you messing with me? Survey still broken for me in firefox & ie, mac & pc. I wanted to help out, but I give up. Sorry boingboing.

    1. Moderator: completely off topic this; the reader survey link goes to a blank page?

      Um….it’s an essay question?

      I’ve reported it.

  10. “Organic” is going to mean entirely different things in different contexts. In cheese, it means no growth hormones. For vegetables, it means no pesticides, but the actual pesticide used is going to vary by product. Plus, some products use more or different pesticides than others.

    Also, walnuts and bananas, which have think skins, are not apt to have near the pesticide residue that a strawberry or piece of broccoli does.

  11. It’s worth watching the outtakes from their site. In order to get the hamster interested in the food, someone would lift the organic carrot (on the right) up and put it in the hamster’s face, and then set it back down. Which carrot did the hamster choose? The one he sniffed.

    For the broccoli, a leaf (of broccoli?) was trailed from the hamster’s location at the back of the testing area towards the normal broccoli (ont he left). And which did he choose that time? Again, the one he was led to.

    Cute hamster and video, though.

  12. I’d love to see someone re-do this experiment a proper, double-blind manner.

    You’d need a hamster, some organic and non-organic produce of equal “quality” and freshness, and an assistant who doesn’t already know which produce is organic to carry out the experiment.

    This would be an awesome science fair project if you’ve got kids of that age.

  13. What survey? Is it in a post or somewhere else on the site? Maybe my ad blocker is blocking it.

  14. Brainspore, all Syrian hamsters are genetically engineered. The original pregnant Cricetus aureus was the pet of a juvenile alien whose family spacecraft was making a brief stop in the area now known as Syria. The hamster escaped and could not be recovered before the spacecraft had to depart. All terrestrial members of the species are descended from that single individual.

    The genetic engineering accounts for the Syrian hamster’s improbable tameness and self-confidence, given that it’s down in the “quick snack” range of the food chain, and also for its tendency to have more personality than body mass. The fact that they’re all descended from an ingenious and determined escape artist accounts for their other notable habit.

    BarkingSpider @16:

    For the broccoli, a leaf (of broccoli?) was trailed from the hamster’s location at the back of the testing area towards the normal broccoli (on the left). And which did he choose that time? Again, the one he was led to.

    On the other hand, notice that he subsequently drops and abandons it. I believe that’s the only time I’ve ever seen a hamster put down an uneaten piece of broccoli.

  15. I think it’s clear that this experiment needed a double-blind hamster.

    They have a nose! They don’t need one eye, let alone two!

    And is that box the hamster is in a proper chi-square?

  16. I think hamsters are wicked cute, but after having one bite clean through the webbing between my thumb and forefinger I’ll never own one again.

    And I always wondered, what does it mean to “hamst”? Runners run, writers write, etc. etc.

  17. What a cute hamster
    Man it was idiotic to suggest atheists should go to church in order to better integrate. :-)

  18. Now I wonder which taste better, organic hamsters or regular ones?

    #8: like askin normal folks to act crazy in order to help mental health outpatients learn to adjust.

  19. This is a cute hamster! But as a doctor, I would recommend that it eat less and get more exercise. It is obviously a very pudgy, sedentary creature, scarfing food all day long. Because, this video.

    I’m not a doctor really.

  20. could be, could be a meme… have to de-burr it of course, repack all the glands, and sand off that damned sparkly unicorn, but yass, could be. Bacon always helps.

  21. We have a new branch of augury: divination by hamster.

    Never mind organic vs. inorganic, I think we should ask the hamster to resolve the really big questions of our age: Mac, PC or Linux? If nothing else, it should make an entertaining video.

  22. I was raised by hamsters myself. Much like Mogli but with little wheels to go runnsies in.
    And I can tell you that my folks (Mr. and Mrs. Nibbles) refused to feed me anything other than free-range chicken.

  23. to be a good study, the organic food should be on the other side as well, or else perhaps this hamster just has a preference for his left.

  24. should be double blind. When you grow the carrots, switch the “organic” and “non-organic” labels so the carrots don’t know what kind of nutrient fertilizer they are getting.

  25. I really don’t care about the organic food argument, but there can never be too many videos of cute hamsters, on Boing Boing or anywhere else.

    Yes, if you coop hamsters up together, they behave aberrantly; this is hardly surprising, since in the wild they are obligate solitaries. But if you treat them right and let them be their lonesome selves, they are fabulous creatures. It is a good world that has hamsters in it.

  26. Bbonyx, hamster is from the German word for miser, on account of their habit of accumulating stashes of food.

  27. most of of the companion animals I’ve lived with have lived extraordinarily long lives. I can attest that hamsters can indeed go senile – and MEAN.

  28. Raise a hamster from when they’re young, treat them right, and nibbles will be very, very rare. My wife has had a total of more than 20 over the years, and they have just enough intelligence to acquire a couple of personality quirks and then their brains are full.

  29. Adamnvillani, I’ve seen an adult hamster stage an unprecedented week-long snit, including turning down all offers of snacks by the offending human, because said human pulled away a half-eaten cracker when the hamster was in the midst of nibbling on it. I was awed. I wouldn’t have bet a plug nickel that he had that long an attention span, or that firm an opinion about the ownership of half-nibbled crackers.

    Takuan, if your hamsters live long enough to get senile, you’re due congratulations.

    BarkingSpider, I’ve now watched the outtakes a couple of times, and I can tell you why they’re having to lure the hamster toward the broccoli. She’s got her cheek pouches completely full of food. She doesn’t want to collect more of it; she wants to go home and unload.

  30. If you took a very young human and bound his head tightly to elongate it, when he grew up he could wear that hamster pelt for a hat. That dude would get all the babes!

  31. Brett Burton @ 10

    How was the Pepsi Challenge rigged?

    I vaguely recall that you tend to prefer the first one you taste. The second one has little/no flavour compared to that initial burst you get from having no residual flavour in your mouth.

  32. maybe the hamster has a twitch to the left (right for the viewer). to make te experiment more viable they should randomize the experiment a bit more (switch sides, starting point ect.)

    also: next question: does it try to get better tasting food, or does it try to avoid chemicals? (anti bug stuff).
    I think they would be the same, less chemicals is better tasting food, but that does not have to be the case.

    This also promts the geustion: are potential parasite on organic food better for the hamster or would a small amount of chemicals and no parasites be better for the long term health of hammie.
    Again gut feeling as that eating a bug now and then is better than a bunch of chemicals. But my gut isnt much proof for this subject, naval fluff is a totally differnt matter.)

    but cool video non the less.

  33. It’s hysterical how many people get hung up on the “blind rodent test” aspect of the video. To me, it’s pretty obvious that this is not a scientifically valid study. I don’t think it’s supposed to be. I think it’s supposed to be a VIDEO of a CUTE HAMSTER.

  34. Arkizzle, you did that?
    That was great! Nice work!
    And many of us can relate to the impact you’ve had on little Hammy there. d8^)

  35. Shizzle-
    My hat’s off to you, my friend! Great work!
    I share your appreciation for the plight of zombies. I mean, it’s not as tho they asked to be zombies. One of the stories I’ve been meaning to write is the diary of a zombie, who didn’t actually die, and therefore kept enough of his faculties to scawl down notes as he travels with a group. One of these days…

  36. Hamster Souffle (serves 5)

    1. Make a creamy white sauce.
    2. add 4 egg yolks and 7 1/2 tbsp of cheese.
    3. beat egg whites until stiff
    4. fold egg whites in
    5. add in 20 tbsp. of 1 inch strips of hamster meat
    6. pour into souffle pan and cook at 400 for 25 min

    Note: this is expinsive because hamsters are small and cost a lot of money for enough, therefore i only prepare when guests are over


  37. Another dining disaster.
    My guests ran out, holding their mouths.
    Thanks a lot, Shizzle!!
    You might have mentioned removing the guts and fur! And their sad little faces!
    It’ll be years before George Lucas agrees to eat here again. And I’ve got all this food left over…
    Honey, call Shatner. Tell him sure, come on over.

Comments are closed.