Friday, September 7, 2007
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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...
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.