Science Fair Project: Which Chocolate Chip Tastes the Best?
Which type of semi-sweet chocolate chip is really the best?
Is it the one in the fancy foil wrapping?
The one with the familiar names?
Or can the cheap generic brand compete with the more familiar brands?
How to Have Fun Doing Science!
Science Fair projects don't have to be dull. My kids have enjoyed doing projects that let them chew gum and eat candy. Science projects test a question and this original project was a favorite with parents at our fair because it helped them make a real-life shopping choice.
Real Life Science Jobs can Involve Chocolate!
Science fair projects can introduce children to real life science jobs. In the case of this experiment, the chemistry of making candy and the consumer science of taste testing and individual preferences. We live near a Mars Candy factory and we have friends and neighbors who are scientists who work there as chemists, engineers and quality control experts. So just because this project is fun, doesn't mean that it isn't real science!
Step by Step PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Sample Student Project
How I thought of this project:
I love chocolate! My dad and I love to eat chocolate chip cookies and brownies. We went to Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco last summer and saw how they made chocolate. My mom buys different kinds of chocolate chips. She usually buys ones on sale. I wondered if there was a difference in the taste and if there was one that most people would like the best.
Question and Hypothesis
Question: Which semi-sweet chocolate chip do most people like the best?
Hypothesis: I guess that Ghiradelli chocolate chips will be the chips people like the best.
Here is the order I think people will like them:
- 1st Ghiradelli
- 2nd Nestle's Toll House
- 3rd Guittard
- 4th Hershey’s
- 5th Hill Country Fair (local grocery generic brand)
I listed them in this order because partly on my opinion and partly because of the wrappers and which ones look good.
- Five different kinds of chocolate chips (or more)
- Paper and pencil for recording results as a graph and journal.
- Paper strips with squares and numbers 1-5 for people to write their opinion.
- Chocolate taste testers! I used my family and my class.
- I put the chocolate chips in a bag with a number on it so that no one knew what kind they were.
- I poured out each of the chips on a plate and looked at them and smelled them to write down what I noticed.
- I gave each person a strip of paper that had the numbers 1-5 on it and gave them the chocolate chips matching those numbers.
- People tasted the chips one by one and ranked them from 1 (best) down to 5 (worst). Some people also wrote words to tell how they thought the chips tasted.
- After the taste test, I showed people what type of chips each one was.
- I made a tally chart of the way people ranked the taste of the chips. I also made a list of the words people used to describe each chip.
- I also smelled all of the chips and wrote down what I thought they smelled like.
- I looked at the chart and the words people used to draw my conclusions.
Making a Chart of Results
I was surprised that the chips were so different! My observations about the chips:
- It is a tiny bit darker and smaller than the others. The tip is larger. It has the best chocolate smell to me.
- It is small and is a little lighter than number 1. This one doesn’t have much smell.
- It looks like number 2 but is a bit bigger. This has almost a mint chocolate smell.
- This looks a lot different. It is the biggest and the lightest colored chip, kind of a light brown. This smells really good.
- This is small and flatter than the others, but it looks a lot like 2 and 3. This one has the strongest smell and smells kind of bitter.
Taste Comments Log
Along with your chart of results, it is a good idea to also write down the comments of your tasters. That will give you more information to use in your results and conclusion part of your paper. Here are some of the log comments we got:
- Hershey’s: cocoa and not too sweet, gritty and not too sweet, chocolaty, not best and not really sweet, dark chocolate taste, like Hershey’s chocolate
- Ghiradelli: manufactured and icky, waxy and not so good a texture, dark chocolate taste, bitter, bad, like Nestlé’s dark chocolate, kind of bitter aftertaste but good, dark chocolate taste
- Guittard: manufactured by good, smooth and silky with dark taste, bitter, really good and sweet, sweet,
- Nestle's Toll House: too sweet but good, like milk chocolate creamy and smooth, sugary, awesome, lighter white chocolate taste, not good chocolate, vanilla taste, cookie tasting.
- Hill Country Fair: manufactured cocoa taste, sweeter and chocolatey, tasty, dark chocolate taste, tastes too plain, really dark chocolate
I liked #3 the best, which was the Guittard chocolate, and #5 Hill Country Fare second. I did not like the Nestlé’s Tollhouse and said it didn’t taste like good chocolate. I think that I really like dark chocolate flavors and that’s why I made my choices.
Putting Your Board TogetherClick thumbnail to view full-size
Which Chip Wins? The ones that more people liked the best were Hershey’s and Nestle's Tollhouse.
The Results Were Split: There wasn’t just one chocolate that everyone liked. The votes were split. I had to look at the numbers by adding the 1s and 2s (liked the best) and then looking at the 4s and 5s (liked the least).
That helped me to see that Hershey’s got the most 1s and 2s (13). Nestlé’s Tollhouse was next (12). The two most expensive chips, Ghiradelli and Guittard (which also had the fanciest foil-wrapped packages) had the least favorite votes (8 each). Hill Country Fair was in between (10) but it also had the most didn’t like votes (12).
Was I right? I thought Ghiradelli would win but most people said it was either only so-so or bad. I was surprised by that. I thought that Hill Country Fair would be the worst, but more people rated it 1 or 2 than either Ghiradelli or Guittard. However, it also got the most 4/5 votes (12).
Dark vs. Light: Even though all my chips were labeled “semi-sweet” they weren’t the same. Some of them were more like milk chocolate and others were more like dark chocolate. I think that the reason some people liked chips had to do with whether they liked dark or milk chocolate. If you like dark chocolate, you would probably like Ghiradelli or Guittard. If you like milk chocolate better, you would probably like Nestlé’s Tollhouse.
Which chip should you buy?
I think that if cost is the main thing for you, you ought to buy the cheapest chips or any brand that is on sale.