Honest Tea: How honest is the Hub?

Turns out we’re pretty  honest.

It was about 90 degrees yesterday near Fenway Park as people passed by an unmanned Honest Tea kiosk that flaunted a few different flavors of ice tea and a sign asking thirsty pedestrians for $1 in exchange for a tea of their choice.

It was part of National Honesty Index, a nation-wide social experiment testing 30 cities’ adherence to the honor system.

As of about 1:30 p.m., roughly 40 people had taken a tea, and the vast majority of them paid, according to those who were keeping watch.

“We are tracking observable criteria this year such as hair color, gender and sports allegiances,” said James Varichio, Honest Beverage’s regional marketing manger of the Northeast. “Most of our results have been pretty encouraging.”

When asked why people would not pay, Varichio said, “Maybe it’s the thought that no one is looking and they can get away with it. But overwhelmingly the majority of people are paying.”

One tourist passing by yesterday went so far as to drop in .75 cents as a donation, without taking the tea.

“I thought it was really awesome that there is a cash box, and they trust you to just leave the money. I think probably because it is so trusting, people would pay,” said Julie Bailey, adding that she had no inclination to swipe a tea.

“Not at all,” she said.

In 2010, Boston was found to be the most honest city, based on the experiment.

Last year Boston came in second place, behind Chicago.

This year’s results will be released on Aug. 20.


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