The CHOICE Shonky Awards is like the film industry’s Golden Raspberry Awards (frequently referred to as the Razzies) for consumer products and services. Best summed up by the CHOICE spokesman Christopher Zinn, “The Shonky Awards highlight what is frankly ridiculous about some of the worst examples of sub-standard products and services CHOICE reviews each year”.
When Mark Communications invited me to attend a behind the scenes tour of CHOICE’s headquarters, I was more than curious to see where and how these products were tested.
I’ll just start off by saying that the CHOICE test labs puts a whole new dimension to a classroom science experiment.
Here are 10 interesting things I discovered:
- All tests are conducted in a controlled environment. For example, the kitchen is always a steady 23 degrees.
- Different food types, temperatures and loads are used to test BBQs. Did someone say party?
- The kitchen is definitely where the fun is. Varying textures from pizza dough to meringue were used to test mixers. They even test microwave defrosters with frozen quiches, measuring the temperature distribution on a hedgehog thermo conductor.
- Being a CHOICE tester isn’t for the commitment phobic. It takes approximately 2 weeks to test mixers, 5 weeks to test BBQs and 12 weeks to test 2 batches of fridges.
- Tested products are eventually sold half price to staff or auction houses, and occasionally, eBay.
- It’s all about accuracy and monitoring. Everything from heat to energy measurements goes through the calibration lab and if required, a correction factor is added. Heck, even rulers are calibrated!
- 28 different areas are tested inside a fridge; consistent temperatures result in a longer food life span versus of course, sporadic temperatures.
- It only takes 1 person to test coffee machines. Caffeine overdose? Oh, and they’re tested with short blacks made from Vittoria coffee.
- What stains are used to test dishwashers? A mixture from the 4 food groups of starch, protein, fibre and fat are used to stain dishes in quarters which are then left to dry overnight in a controlled environment.
- To CHOICE staff, hot water means 60°C and cold water is 20°C.
While none of the Shonky Award winners collected their gongs, along with who’s who of consumer media, some bloggers and I had a good laugh at Vanessa Wagner’s demonstrations of just how dodgy these lemons were. And yes, that’s a rubber chicken you see in the stock pot!
The Awards that were most relevant to foodies include:
CHOICE Shonky Award: Water at what price?
Winner: Chefs’ Cupboard and Massel liquid stocks
Why: The liquid stocks are made from reconstituted powder or concentrate, meaning consumers are paying an extra $2.50 per litre for the convenience of pre-added water.
CHOICE Shonky Award: Honey I shrunk the groceries
Winner: Uncle Tobys Oat Crisp Honey cereal
Why: Shrinkage with extra packaging meaning that despite the RRP as decreased 6%, the unit price increased by 10%!
CHOICE Shonky Award: Cheese-fearing surrender monkey
Winner: Tiffany FP807 food processor
Why: It failed a simple cheese and mayonnaise test and the plastic parts of the shaft even crumbled. Epic fail!
Win a free 3 month subscription to CHOICE!
Want more unbiased product reviews and comparisons? Thanks to Mark Communications and CHOICE, one lucky JENIUS reader will be able to enjoy a 3 month subscription to CHOICE magazine. Simply leave a comment below in 25 words or less and tell me about a shonky product experience you have had.
Competition closes Sunday 15th November, 11:59pm. Winner will be announced on Monday 16th November. Competition is open to Australian residents only.
This competition has now closed.