Friday, September 7, 2007

"The Great Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Size/Taste Differential Experiment"


Everyone loves Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. They are delicious. The chocolate, the peanut butter...mmm, what a combination. In fact, it appears that the combination is in fact the secret to the success.

My friend Jonathan and I have agreed on something about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. It seems that the smaller, miniature cups, seem to taste the best. Don't get me wrong, they are all good, but the small cups seem to be far superior to the normal sized cups. Then they released the "Reese's Big Cup" and these tasted even more inferior than the normal sized cups.

The larger the peanut butter cup, we found, the more unfavorable (or unflavorable) the product became. How could this be possible? In our society of supersizing, isn't bigger better? You would think more chocolate and more peanut butter equals more taste. I won't lie, this paradox troubled Jonathan and I for many a year.

So in the name of science, Jonathan and I set out to find the answer. Thus began, "The Great Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Size/Taste Differential Experiment." Also known as the "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Experiment" for short. Like any good experiment, first we needed a hypothesis. Jonathan and I bounced around many theories as to why the smaller Reese's cups tasted better than the larger cups. After thinking about it for a while, we came to the conclusion that the chocolate to peanut butter ratio in the miniature cups must be the most favorable (or flavorable) ...this would be our hypothesis.

However, is there a higher chocolate than peanut butter ratio in miniature cups? Is it a higher peanut butter to chocolate ratio? 50/50? These quesitons would form the basis of our experiment. We called this "yummy ratio" or as we will refer to it further in this writing, the "yummatio."

So first we needed many specimens. We bought the miniature, normal, and big sized cups. First on the list, were the taste tests.


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We began by sampling the miniature cups. Then we drank a mouthful of water to "reset" our tastebuds for the larger cups. We then taste tested the normal and big cups, again with mouthfuls of water in between.



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After running the first test we definitely felt that the smaller cups seemed to taste more chocolaty. However, we couldn't prove this on taste alone, so we continued our experiments.

Our next test was to cut the cups down their centerline so that we could have a cross section look at their insides. We theorized that the larger cups would need more of a chocolate shell in order to retain structural integrity. So we began to cut into the cups. Believe me, this is no small feat for two nerds in their early twenties who never go to the gym.


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Once all of them were cut open, we were shocked at the findings. Our theory about the structural integrity was disproved. In fact, the opposite was true. Through visual inspection of the specimens, it seemed that the miniature cups had a greater ratio of chocolate, while the larger cups had much more peanut butter, and a smaller ratio of chocolate.


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We could have ended our experiment there, as we had seemingly found the answer, but we had to be SURE. We reasoned that the incision of the knife caused minute buckling and collapsing of the top chocolate layer, and could possibly skew the results. So we decided to run a second test...core samples.

From our earlier difficulty with cutting into the surface with a knife, we knew the top crust was very strong. We were not sure if we could push a plastic straw through the top crust of the cups. So to test its strength we used a Dremel tool to see how easy it would be to drill through the surface.


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After running our test we thought it might be possible to take core samples. While we don't have exact numbers, we know that the strength of the top crust layer is somewhere between that of butter and forged steel. With that knowledge, Jonathan took a plastic straw and began extracting core samples from the various sizes of cups.


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We ran into a bit of a snag at this point. When we tried to push the core samples out of the straw, the samples would crumble and thus ruin the evidence. We almost accepted defeat, when my brilliant wife came up with a solution. She suggested putting the samples in the freezer so that they would harden, and thus be structurally sound when we pushed them out of the straw. So that is exactly what we did.

However, at this point, we had to wait for awhile for them to harden. During this time, we took other measurements just to be sure we had enough data. Jonathan then ran some equations on our data.


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After about an hour, we were able to pop out the core samples and take a look. Here we found the very same results as our cross section experiment. It was indeed the larger chocolate ratio in the miniature peanut butter cups that provided the optimal "yummatio".


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Finally, we had a reason why the smaller the Reese's cup, the better the taste. It's the larger chocolate ratio. For those of you who have been confused up to this point, we have provided a scientific graph to illustrate our point more visually...


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So, in conclusion, I hope you will remember what you have learned here the next time you are craving a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. When you can't decide which size to get, you can bank on our findings here. The miniature ones will always provide the optimal ratios for the best taste.


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24 comments:

Brandon said...

Ah, but what about the special "not-cup" versions? Namely, the egg, pumpkin and christmas tree.

I think those have an even higher percentage of peanut butter... yet our very tasty.

chaosgone said...

Such a tasty experiment! I will have to do my own taste test, and see if I agree. :)

Tom said...

My. God.

-Tom

Brian Pipa said...

We just featured this on Candy Addict

unspokeneko said...

This is EXTREMELY imaginative!!! I rate it 10/10!!!

IndigoMoon said...

Absolutele adorable. Thank you for your experiment and trying to set the record straight! :)

Home_At_Heart said...

Y'all are hilarious!

Weird. But hilarious!

Now, all of this was great info, but what I really want to know is: How big were Reese Cups in the 1960's vs current size.

I think the shrinkage has affected flavor. Negatively.

I, however, have never liked the miniature cups. Like miniature golf and miniature dogs, I have never understood: what is the point?

Any info on the Great Reese Shrinkage, however, would be greatly appreciated.

Dana said...

Wow. Nice work guys! Personally, my favorite is the Reese's Peanut Butter Egg, followed by the Reese's Peanut Butter Tree, the Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkin and finally, the regular size Peanut Butter cup. The mini's are my least favorite.

It is good to know that people are as passionate about Reese's PB as I am.

Soccerroxgirl said...

haha, this is great!!! seriously!!

gotoran said...

This experiment proves why I DISLIKE the miniatures. Too much chocolate. I love the .55oz cups and think they're PERFECT, but I would also like to know the size of the cups from the 60's and 70's. My recollection is that they were considerable larger...and precisely why I didn't like them as much as I now love the .55oz size. Gonna take some research. If I find it, I'll post.

gotoran said...

This experiment proves why I DISLIKE the miniatures. Too much chocolate. I love the .55oz cups and think they're PERFECT, but I would also like to know the size of the cups from the 60's and 70's. My recollection is that they were considerable larger...and precisely why I didn't like them as much as I now love the .55oz size. Gonna take some research. If I find it, I'll post.

UPDATE: Easily found answer. The standard size is a .75 oz cup, and contain too much peanut butter for me, although I still love them. The ones I've been buying most recently in the 8-pack are .55oz each and are P-E-R-F-E-C-T!!! Strange, but I haven't seen the 1.5 oz two-pack in the stores around here lately. I wonder if ALL the standards have been shrunk.

Pamela said...

As a 58-year-old woman who eats an average of 25 miniature Reese's every afternoon at work (and looks it), I am cracking up at your experiment. Fabulous! Great job! I found your blog by Googling some key words to get a little background info to include in a thank-you note I'm about to write for a 60-oz. bag of Reese's miniatures. Like, is that the largest size bag you can buy?

I know why I only like the miniatures -- it's all about The Edge. I love the texture and zigzag-ness of edges, and the smaller the cup, the more edge you crunch. You can open the miniatures and scrape them into your mouth without ever touching them with your fingers, so there is no melting. There can be some fly-off of chocolate edge bits; but with the proper opening-and-eating system over a wastebasket, that issue can be resolved.

If forced to, I will eat larger cups, but forget the holiday shapes -- they have no edges at all, so they taste like crap.

Chris in KC said...

Cup size - ah yes, size matters LOL... Well I've emailed Hershey's, we'll see what they have to say but There are 3 "standard" cup sizes when most everyone prolly thought thought they're all alike... Check out Wikipedia, I updated it for waht I found... .75 oz. cups in the 2-pak, .70 oz cups in the King Size 4 -pak, and .55 oz. in the lunch 8-pak. IDK what they put in the larger bags when you buy them at Halloween time etc.... prolly .55 oz. Oh and the nutrition info. on their website for cups says serving size 51g. Now the 1.5 oz 2-pak is only 42g so at some point was the 2 pak a heavier 1.82 oz. or so? (51 * 28 g per oz. = 1.82 oz.). Let's see what Uncle Hershey has to say!

Peanut Butter Jo said...

I appreciate the thoroughness of your experiment. I do agree with you that the ratio of chocolate to peanut is best found in the fun-size Reese's.

Dr. Jake D. Veigel said...

Fantastic post. From a medical perspective: an increase in the yummatio increases life expectancy.

Good work!!

Webb said...

My girlfriend and I got into a debate about this last night. I said that the yummatio was different in the different size cups, she disagreed. We used the text messaging service "KGB" to decide who was right...KGB said that there was an equal ratio of peanut butter to chocolate in all Reeses Cups.

She claimed to win the debate.

Thanks to your hard work, I will eventually prove to her I was correct.

Thank you!

Niccicola said...

I made my way here because I am trying to find the dimensions of each size Reese cup. Lol I love your experiment. My only thought is that your hypothesis is subjective because some of us prefer the peanut butter to chocolate.

I am making my brother a birthday "cake" made with just reeses cups because he doesn't like cake or icing. Reeses are his favorite thing..ever. So now I know to use the bigger cups to give him the most PB filling!!

Nicolas said...

This is something that has plagued me for some time. (While I do not agree that the smaller the cup the tastier) I find the normal sized cups have the perfect peanutbutter to chocolate ratio.
I am glad that you took the time to do this experiment in the love of Reese's. ^_^

Marvin8 said...

You really shouldn't use terms like "normal size" here. It's much more useful to state the oz. size so that we know what you're specifically referring to. .55 "snack size" is the clear winner for me.

April Dawn said...

I suppose they taste better to those who enjoy Hershey's Chocolate but personally I only eat them because I can't manage to get everything together to make my own Peanut Butter Cups with Crunchy Peanut Butter. Honestly to me the Big Cups taste best because I love Peanut Butter.

Also they have a Mini version now that is smaller than the Miniatures and is even stronger on the chocolate. I tried them today because they were 2 for 3 bucks at my local convenience store.

Cosmic said...

You could have figured this out mathematically as well. For any given object (regardless of shape) the larger it gets, the smaller its surface area to volume ratio. So for any given choclate thickness, the larger the cup, the smaller the chocolate to peanut butter ratio. But the added information about increased thickness of chocolate is nice to know too though, since it actually exacerbates the situation.

Anthony said...

Well I learned something new today. Thanks!

Emperor said...

The experimenters (kudos for the effort) did not take into consideration the extra effort-to-gratification-ratio required to take off the wrappers of those mini-cups. IMHO, it offsets their superior chocolate-peanut ratio ever so slightly - so my vote is still for the normal size ones.

Emperor said...

The experimenters (kudos for the effort) did not take into consideration the extra effort-to-gratification-ratio required to take off the wrappers of those mini-cups. IMHO, it offsets their superior chocolate-peanut ratio ever so slightly - so my vote is still for the normal size ones.