In recent years there has been increased attention for nudging as a tool to alter consumer decisions. While nudges should in theory preserve freedom of choice by respecting consumers’ preferences, empirical scrutiny of this claim is sparse. This research investigates the effectiveness of a center-stage nudge to encourage the consumption of a small portion size of soda. Specifically, in all studies we measure the extent to which strong preferences that are incongruent with the aim of the nudge (i.e. thirst and liking) and nudge congruent preferences (i.e. intentions to reduce soda consumption (study 1); Healthy diet goals (observed in study 2; manipulated in study 3) could be expressed when a choice is nudged. In three studies (n = 119; n = 184; n = 202) it was found that strong preferences are not trumped by the nudge and in fact overrule the effectiveness of a center-stage nudge. These findings contribute to the debate about the ethical considerations that are voiced concerning nudge interventions, and urge choice architects to consider consumers’ prior preferences as an important boundary condition of effective nudge interventions.