Cafe Society

Honest Tea tests Denver's honesty on a hot day

Honest Tea just finished testing Denver's honesty. On Tuesday, two mysterious kiosks on the 16th Street Mall (see above) were stocked with bottles of cold tea, along with a sign asking hot and thirsty mall-walkers to put a dollar in the cash box if they wanted to enjoy some tea. Nobody was watching the kiosks...or were they?

Honest Tea representatives were indeed looking on, working undercover to analyze Denver's honesty. Although the data isn't in, it seemed that the kiosk by the World Trade Center was doing a big business in both tea and honesty. A second kiosk was put up at 16th and Arapahoe streets later in the day.

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Honest Tea started its "Honesty Index" two years ago, testing a dozen cities. This year the campaign is hitting thirty cities, hoping to get a more accurate sampling of the nation's honesty. "We're trying to find places that are true to the city for a good mix to really represent what the city is," explains Honest Tea regional marketing manager Olivia Shjeflo. The World Trade Center site attracted Denver's more buttoned-up business crew, while the one at 16th and Arapahoe streets attracted a less formal crowd.

Using an iPad app, Honest Tea workers noted every observation they could make about the curious (and thirsty) tea drinkers -- gender, appearance, age. After they're done visiting cities and taking notes, Honest Tea will make their findings public...and interactive!

"People can log onto and look at different cities and compare them to each other," explains Shjeflo. "We track it on the iPad so each time a new person comes up," Once the data is released on August 20, you'll be able to determine if blonds or brunettes are more honest, and whether people with dogs pony up. "People have been really honest in general," notes Shjeflo. Last year the nation overall scored 88 percent honesty, with Chicago leading the way at 99 percent.

But Denver may give Chicago a run for its money; while watching the kiosk for an hour, I saw only one person take a bottle of tea without paying. Honest truth.

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Natalie Gonzalez