Every year as trick-or-treat approaches, we see lists of ranked candy going around the internet. Most are opinions, hoping to draw comments. Some are based on sales or some other concrete metric. But now Walt Hickey did some real research. First, the website FiveThirtyEight staged a poll where people would select the better of two kinds of candy at a time, in order to rank their popularity. Then he crunched more number to determine why some candies rose to the top. Neither the expense nor the sugar content explained the rankings.
So if it’s not price or sugar, there must be something about what’s in the candies that make some better and some worse. With the fervency of a stay-at-home dad who recently learned of a child’s mild peanut allergy, I scoured the internet for descriptive ingredient data about all the candies in our data set. Were they chocolate? Did they contain peanuts or almonds? How about crisped rice or other biscuit-esque component, like a Kit Kat or malted milk ball? Was it fruit flavored? Was it made of hard candy, like a lollipop or a strawberry bon bon? Was there nougat? What even is nougat? I know I like nougat, but I still have remotely no clue what the damn thing is.
A statistical analysis of ingredients in the ranked list indicates that we indeed have preferences that are common across the population. Duh. So Hickey proposes designing a Frankenstein bar, if you will, that includes all the popular ingredients. I disagree. The Reese's Cup proves that often the simplest ideas are the best. Read the ranked list and the nuts-and-bolts research that went into it at FiveThirtyEight. -Thanks, Tim!
(Image credit: MBisanz)