The current study attempted to determine which commercial brand of chocolate chip, Kroger or nestle, was preferred. Two hundred and nine participants from Ball State University were included in the study. The experiment was double blind and counterbalanced. Participants completed a survey, rated each chip on six taste characteristics, rated the importance of the taste characteristics, and provided consumption history, frequency, and demographics. The results indicated that participants preferred Nestle to Kroger. Participants identified the Nestle and Kroger taste characteristics of flavor, aftertaste, and texture were the most important taste characteristics.
The purpose of the current study is to determine preference between two commercially available chocolate chips brands. This study will assess three main areas to properly locate preferences. First, the study will establish chocolate chip consumption history. Next, it will examine differences between chocolate chip brands in terms of their taste characteristics. And lastly, it will examine differences of importance regarding taste characteristics and state hypotheses.
Counterbalancing and double-blind methodologies are strategies to reduce error in empirical research. The use of counterbalancing means that all possible permutations of the variables are included. For taste tests, this meant having one group of participants taste product A before tasting product B, and another group taste product B before product A. Counterbalancing ensures that initial bias against either product does not affect an evaluation of the second product.
One experiment tested the effectiveness of a computerized study guide to improve academic performance. Counterbalancing was used across classes that were administered the study guides (Flora & Logan, 1996). Goldberg, Lerner, and Tetlock (1999) examined the influence of experimentally primed anger on attributions of responsibility. Questions were counterbalanced between participants in questionnaires following a video. The order of receiving the questionnaire and open-ended questions was also counterbalanced between participants. This was done to ensure answerers were unbiased depending on the order in which questions were asked.
Double-blind procedures require both the participant and the research are unaware of which product is which. The participants and researcher are equally ignorant of the identity of product A and product B until the research is concluded. This procedure prevents the preconceived notions of products affecting the research through bias, opinion, and past experience. Agras, Dorian, Kirkley, and Bachman (1987) administered a placebo and imipramine hydrochloride to respective groups of participants in the treatment of bulimia. A double-blind procedure restricted both the researcher and participants from knowing who was administered the active drug or the placebo to reduce bias. Another experiment administered Olanzapine and a placebo to participants with acute bipolar mania (Tohen et al., 2000). Double-blind was used so participants and researchers did not know who was in the control and experimental groups.
Three previous studies were examined which tested the taste of chocolate chips; all three used counterbalancing and double-blind methodologies (Burgan & Koch, 2009; Thatcher, 2008; Woroszylo, 2012). All three recruited on a volunteer basis and offer no incentives. These studies surveyed the importance of five taste characteristics (flavor, texture, aftertaste, appearance, and smell) and measured each kind of chocolate chip under those characteristics. An overall rating for each chocolate chip was also recorded. Measurements were made using 5-point Likert scales. The Likert scales for taste characteristics varied between studies. Burgan and Koch labeled 1 = disgusting and 5 = delicious, Thatcher labeled 1= dislike and 5 = excellent, and Woszylo labeled 1 = very bad and 5 = very good. The Likert scales of importance of taste test were also varied across studies. Burgan and Koch labeled 1 = unimportant and 5 = important, Thatcher labeled 1 = very low importance and 5 = very high importance, and Woroszylo labeled 1 = unimportant and 5 = important. Variations in wording on the Likert scale across studies put a strong limitation on effectively comparing their results.
Burgan and Koch (2009), Thatcher, and Woroszylo (2012) used different wording when measuring how often participants consumed chocolate chips. Burgan and Koch reported that most participants consumed chocolate chips sometimes; Thatcher reported most consumed chocolate chips frequently, and Woroszylo reported most consumption was 1-3 times monthly. Different measurements of frequency will restrict ability to compare the findings of these studies.
All studies followed the same general procedures and had relatively similar sample sizes (Burgan & Koch, 2009; Thatcher, 2008; Woroszylo, 2012). One exception was in the procedures used by Woroszylo. Thatcher and Burgan and Koch instructed participants to take a drink of lemon-lime soda before and after consuming chocolate chips. Worosyzlo instructed participants to take a drink of water before and after consumption and to use a plastic spoon. This difference between water and soda could have influenced the results because the taste characteristics of water might have affected the participants’ responses to the taste characteristics of the chocolate chip differently than lemon-lime soda. One other important difference between studies was what chocolate chips were used. Burgan and Koch compared Hershey against Nestle, Thatcher compared Hershey against Kroger, and Woroszylo compared Nestle against Hershey. These differences prevent comparing results directly.
Preferences and History Consuming Chocolate Chips
Burgan and Koch (2009) found that Nestle chocolate chips were preferred over Hershey. Additionally, Burgan and Koch found a significant association between preferred chocolate chip and chocolate chip normally consumed, revealing those who normally consumed Kraft and Hershey were more likely than chance to normally consume Nestle. Burgan and Koch found the only significant association between ethnicity and chip preference of the three studies, finding blacks were more likely than chance to prefer Nestle and Hispanics were more likely than chance to prefer Hershey.
Thatcher (2008) found participants preferred Hershey to Kroger. A significant association between preferred chip and type of chocolate chip normally consumed, those who preferred Hershey were more likely than chance to normally consume sweet chocolate chips. Those who preferred Kroger were more likely than chance to normally consume dark chocolate chips.
Woroszylo (2012) found participants preferred Hershey to Nestle. A significant association between preferred chip and type of chocolate chip normally consumed, participants who preferred Hershey were more likely than chance to normally consume dark chocolate chips. These finding conflicts with Thatcher, who found those who preferred Hershey, were more likely than chance to normally consume sweet chocolate chips.
Burgan and Koch (2009) found no significant differences for the six taste characteristics between Hershey and Nestle. Thatcher (2008) found higher ratings on all of the taste characteristics for Hershey over Kroger. Woroszylo (2012) found that Nestle was rated significantly higher than Hershey both in overall rating and flavor. This finding conflicts with Burgan and Koch who reported no significant differences between Hershey and Nestle. All findings taken together indicate that Kroger has the least appeal between all three.
Burgan and Koch (2009), Thatcher (2008), and Woroszylo (2012) looked for significant differences between texture, smell, aftertaste, and flavor. Burgan and Koch found importance ratings means significantly differed except for texture and appearance. Woroszylo reported significant differences between all importances ratings except smell and texture. All three studies reported flavor and aftertaste to be the most important characteristics, and smell and texture to be the least important characteristics.
The current study predicts to find Nestle to be the most normally consumed chocolate chip brand and dark chocolate to be the most normally consumed type of chocolate chip. Flavor is the most important taste characteristic, while smell is the least important. The current study predicts to find no significant differences between gender, ethnicity, age, taste characteristics, consumption, or type of chocolate chip preferred.
Of the 209 participants, the mean age was 23.25 years, 62.2% were female, and the majority of participants were Caucasian. Participants were recruited with no incentives using a convenience sample of individuals passing by in the hallway of the North Quad Building at Ball State University. Awareness of the experiment was acquired through flyers and word of mouth.
Two types of commercially available chocolate chip brands were compared, Chip A and Chip B. Spoons, bowls, and cups were used, and water was be used as a palette cleanser. Informed consent outlining ingredients ere provided to participants.
Chocolate chip comparison survey. Participants were given a survey assessing taste characteristics (appearance, smell, texture, flavor, aftertaste, and overall rating), importance of each taste characteristic (appearance, smell, texture, flavor, and aftertaste), and demographics (age, sex, status, and race). The survey also included familiarity with chocolate chips, type of brand normally consumed, and which chocolate chip taste tested is preferred. The current study measured taste characteristics on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = very dissatisfying and 5 = very satisfying). Importance of taste characteristics will also be measured on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = not at all important and 5 = very important).
Data collection took place at tables in the lower level of the North Quad building in Ball State University. As individuals walked by, they voluntarily participated in a counterbalanced double-blind taste test and survey. One chocolate chip brand was labeled A and the other was be labeled B. Each participant was given an informed consent including a list of ingredients and asked to indicate any existing allergies. Those with odd identification numbers will be assigned chocolate Chip A first, followed by Chip B. Those with even identification numbers will be counterbalanced against those with odd identification numbers, given chocolate chip brand B then chocolate chip brand A. After instructed to remove gum or candy and take a cleansing drink of water, participants then used a plastic spoon to taste Chip B. Participants were then instructed to complete the survey’s first section. Next, participants took another cleansing drink of water, tasted Chip B, completed the rest of the survey, and were thanked for their time.
Participants preferred Nestle (52.46%) to Kroger (42.65) and 4.90% had no preference. Over two-thirds (77.00%) of participants indicated they normally consumed semi-sweet chocolate chips, 13.00% indicated they normally consumed dark chips, and 7.50% indicated other. Participants indicated they normally consume Nestle (44.61%), followed by Hershey (33.32%), Ghirardelli (7.83%), Other (7.36%), Private selection (.99%), Kraft (.50%), and Psst (.50%). Nearly one-fifth (18.76%) of participants rated they rarely/never consume chocolate chips. Exactly half (50.00%) of participants indicated consuming chocolate chips 1-3 times monthly, 21.16% at least once weekly, 8.17% 2-4 times weekly, and 1.92% 5 or more times weekly.
Chi Squared analysis indicated a significant association between chip preference and sex, c2 (2, N = 203) = 7.40, p < .05. Males were more likely than chance to prefer Kroger. Chi squared analysis did not indicate any significance between brand normally consumed and type normally consumed.
Our independent samples t-test indicated that females (M = 4.08, SD = 0.82) rated texture importance significantly higher than males (M = 3.58, SD = 1.1), t(203) = 3.71, p < .001. To examine means, standard deviations, and other t-test information for important sex differences see table one.
Our paired samples t-test indicated that Nestle appearance (M = 4.13, SD = 0.75 was rated significantly higher than Kroger in appearance (M = 3.75, SD = .86) t(2.08) = 6.32, p < .001. To examine other important differences see table two.
A repeated measures analysis of variance indicated a significant F-ratio, F(4, 816) = 164.30, p < .001. All pairwise comparisons were significantly different from one another. For other important differences see figure one.
The current study’s purpose was to determine preference between two types of commercially available chocolate chips. The first hypothesis was that dark chocolate would be the most normally consumed chocolate chip. The second hypothesis was that flavor would be the most important taste characteristics. The third hypothesis was that there would be no significant differences between gender, ethnicity, age, taste characteristics, consumption, or type of chocolate chip preferred.
The present study found Nestle to be preferred over Kroger and that Nestle was the most normally consumed brand of chocolate chip. Burgan and Koch (2009) found Nestle to be preferred over Hershey. Thatcher (2008) found Hershey to be preferred over Kroger, while Woroszlyo (2012) found Hershey to be preferred over Nestle. Past research confirms the current study’s results that semi-sweet would be the most frequently reported type of chocolate chip (Burgan & Koch, 2009; Thatcher, 2008; Woroszylo, 2012).
The current study found males were more likely than chance to prefer Kroger and texture importance ratings were significantly higher in males. Burgan and Koch (2009) found that males rated Hershey flavor significantly higher than females and females rated texture for Nestle significantly higher than males. Thatcher (2008) found males rated aftertaste significantly higher for Kroger than females. Woroszylo (2012) found that females rated texture importance significantly higher than males and that males indicated they normally consume chocolate chips significantly more than females.
Burgan and Koch (2009) did not find any difference in taste characteristics. Thatcher (2008) found the overall rating for Hershey was significantly higher than the overall rating for Kroger and Hershey flavor was rated significantly higher than Kroger flavor. Woroszlyo (2012) found Nestle’s overall rating was rated significantly higher than Hershey’s overall rating and Nestle was rated significantly higher than Hershey in terms of flavor. The current study found Nestle appearance was rated significantly higher than Kroger in appearance. For more important differences see table two.
The current study found all pairwise comparisons were significantly different. Burgan and Koch (2009) found texture, appearance, smell, aftertaste, and flavor to be significantly different. Thatcher (2008) and Woroszylo (2012) found the same order of importance ratings for the five-taste characteristics flavor, aftertaste, smell, texture, and appearance rated the lowest. The current study found the same two highest importance ratings as Burgan and Koch (2009), Thatcher (2008), and Woroszylo (2012).
Key driver analysis. A key driver analysis is used to measure main drives of client satisfaction. Each condition describes the relationship between how each brand was rated by taste characteristic and how taste characteristics can be described. Cut score for this category is higher than 3.75 to assess relative levels of importance and satisfaction. Superfluous is the condition where the taste characteristic had a low importance rating but the chocolate chip taste ratings were rated high. High priority issue is the condition where the taste characteristic satisfaction was rated under the cut score and importance rating was over it. Critical maintenance is the condition where taste characteristic and importance both scored higher than 3.75. The non-issue condition describes when the importance and taste characteristic ratings are both below 3.75.
Burgan and Koch (2009) also conducted a key-driver analysis. Texture and appearance were in the superfluous condition as in the current study. Flavor and aftertaste were in the critical maintenance condition. Both the current study and Burgan and Koch found appearance to be in the superfluous condition and flavor and aftertaste to be in the critical maintenance condition. Both Burgan and Koch and the current study found smell to be in the high-priority issue condition. The current study also found texture to be in the critical maintenance condition, while Burgan and Koch did not.
Strengths and Limitations
The use of double blind and counterbalancing methodologies were a strength of the current study. These methodologies decreased the potential for bias. One limitation was the failure to randomly assign participants to each condition. Volunteers were conveniently sampled and the results would not be generalized outside the sample of participants. The large restriction of the sample to college-aged people at Ball State University reduced external validity.
Future research should include a more diverse sample with participants randomly selected from Ball State University. Similarly, diversity of age, gender, and race would increase external validity. Comparing more than two brands at a time may also be beneficial.
Descriptive statistics. Nestle was preferred over Kroger. Semi-sweet was the type of chocolate chip frequently consumed. Nestle was the brand most frequently consumed. Females rated texture importance significantly higher than males and males were more likely than chance to prefer Kroger. For more information see table one.
Taste characteristics. Participants overall rated Nestle higher than Kroger. Nestle was rated higher than Kroger in appearance. For more information see table two.
Importance ratings. All pairwise comparisons were significantly different from one another. Flavor was rated highest followed by aftertaste, texture, smell and appearance.