Brow Beat

Can You Really Taste the Difference Between Lemons and Limes? A Slate Investigation.

Americans have been hit with a shortage of one of the things we treasure most—garnishes for our gin and tonics. As the dearth of limes in U.S. grocery stores continues, discontent in the streets rises. When my colleague L.V. Anderson suggested that lemons were an obvious substitute for limes during the shortage, readers revolted. “Blasphemy!” cried one. “Um, no. Not the same. At all,” declared another. According to conventional wisdom (and to flavored seltzer manufacturers), lemons and limes possess two very different flavors that are easy to tell apart.

But is that really true? We here at the Slate New York office decided to take the test. If you sub lemons for limes, will that pho you ordered for lunch just not taste right?  Or have we been simply fooling ourselves all these years into thinking they’re more different than they actually are?  To find out, we did our duty as journalists: We blindfolded our staff and videotaped them trying to distinguish between wedges of the two different fruits. (To make it a fair test, we trimmed all the wedges to the same size.)

How many of us got it right? Watch and find out: