The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize For Literature Was Awarded To A 5,000 Word Treatise On The Topic Of?
Answer: Brewing Tea
Beginning in 1977, the International Organization for Standardization (the ISO you see tacked onto standards for everything from measuring sticks to DVDs) began work on a lengthy document regarding the preparation of tea.
Over the years the document grew and by the time it was formally adopted it spanned multiple pages and approximately 5,000 words. In 1999, the document received an Ig Nobel Prize, a parody version of the Nobel Prize, for it’s detailed rules for tea preparation.
Now, while it’s easy to poke fun at such an endeavor, the standard actually does exist for a reason. It isn’t an instruction guide for the lay person to prepare a cup of tea in their home, it is a standardized method of tea preparation intended to be used for studies focused on sensory comparisons between tea samples. If a company or research group wants to compare consumer feedback on different samples of tea, they could use ISO 3103 (also known as BS 6008) to create consist preparation and delivery methods across all sample groups.
Image courtesy of A Girl With Tea.