Science Fair Project: Which Chocolate Chip Tastes the Best?

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The Question

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 Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Step 1:  Decide on your question and your guess of which semi-sweet chocolate people will like the best. Step 2:  Gather your materials, including at least 5 kinds of chocolate chips.  Put a number from 1-5 on the chips.Here is the number in sharpie--be sure you write the numbers randomly, not in the order you think people will like them.Step 3: Put the chips in the order you think people will like them from 1-5, with 1 being best.  Write down your guesses (hypothesis)Step 4: Copy off tasting test strips.  You won't be telling people what kind of chip they are tasting.  You will just put them down on the number.  Then your testers will rate the chips 1-5 on their strips and add any comments they have about taste.Step 5: Pour out the chips on numbered plates for the taste test.Step 6: Hand out the chips for tasting.  Let people have more if they need to taste a couple of times to be sure!Step 7: Have your testers fill out their strips with their favorite (1) down to their least favorite (5).
Step 1:  Decide on your question and your guess of which semi-sweet chocolate people will like the best.
Step 1: Decide on your question and your guess of which semi-sweet chocolate people will like the best. | Source
Step 2:  Gather your materials, including at least 5 kinds of chocolate chips.  Put a number from 1-5 on the chips.
Step 2: Gather your materials, including at least 5 kinds of chocolate chips. Put a number from 1-5 on the chips. | Source
Here is the number in sharpie--be sure you write the numbers randomly, not in the order you think people will like them.
Here is the number in sharpie--be sure you write the numbers randomly, not in the order you think people will like them. | Source
Step 3: Put the chips in the order you think people will like them from 1-5, with 1 being best.  Write down your guesses (hypothesis)
Step 3: Put the chips in the order you think people will like them from 1-5, with 1 being best. Write down your guesses (hypothesis) | Source
Step 4: Copy off tasting test strips.  You won't be telling people what kind of chip they are tasting.  You will just put them down on the number.  Then your testers will rate the chips 1-5 on their strips and add any comments they have about taste.
Step 4: Copy off tasting test strips. You won't be telling people what kind of chip they are tasting. You will just put them down on the number. Then your testers will rate the chips 1-5 on their strips and add any comments they have about taste. | Source
Step 5: Pour out the chips on numbered plates for the taste test.
Step 5: Pour out the chips on numbered plates for the taste test. | Source
Step 6: Hand out the chips for tasting.  Let people have more if they need to taste a couple of times to be sure!
Step 6: Hand out the chips for tasting. Let people have more if they need to taste a couple of times to be sure! | Source
Step 7: Have your testers fill out their strips with their favorite (1) down to their least favorite (5).
Step 7: Have your testers fill out their strips with their favorite (1) down to their least favorite (5). | Source

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.

Materials

  1. Five different kinds of chocolate chips (or more)
  2. Paper and pencil for recording results as a graph and journal.
  3. Paper strips with squares and numbers 1-5 for people to write their opinion.
  4. Chocolate taste testers! I used my family and my class.

Procedure

  1. I put the chocolate chips in a bag with a number on it so that no one knew what kind they were.
  2. I poured out each of the chips on a plate and looked at them and smelled them to write down what I noticed.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. After the taste test, I showed people what type of chips each one was.
  6. 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.
  7. I also smelled all of the chips and wrote down what I thought they smelled like.
  8. I looked at the chart and the words people used to draw my conclusions.

Making a Chart of Results

Take Careful Science Experiment Notes
Take Careful Science Experiment Notes | Source

Results

I was surprised that the chips were so different! My observations about the chips:

  1. It is a tiny bit darker and smaller than the others. The tip is larger. It has the best chocolate smell to me.
  2. It is small and is a little lighter than number 1. This one doesn’t have much smell.
  3. It looks like number 2 but is a bit bigger. This has almost a mint chocolate smell.
  4. This looks a lot different. It is the biggest and the lightest colored chip, kind of a light brown. This smells really good.
  5. 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

My opinion:

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.

How Chocolate is Made

Putting Your Board Together

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Here is the finished board done completely by a 4th grader.  Mom helped with some of the typing and making the taste chart on the computer, but Sophie made all the designs and mounted it herself.We use Printshop to make our titles.  The headline banner allows all sorts of creative choices.  You can also use letter stickers or die cuts.Cut out your printed out project and mount to the board with a glue stick, double-sided tape or glue dots.  Sometimes we even staple the edges.  You can use paper to mat the photos and writing or just put it on a colorful board background.Save your wrappers from the chocolate chips to decorate the board.   Sophie also made chocolate chips out of paper and we printed off photos of the project.
Here is the finished board done completely by a 4th grader.  Mom helped with some of the typing and making the taste chart on the computer, but Sophie made all the designs and mounted it herself.
Here is the finished board done completely by a 4th grader. Mom helped with some of the typing and making the taste chart on the computer, but Sophie made all the designs and mounted it herself. | Source
We use Printshop to make our titles.  The headline banner allows all sorts of creative choices.  You can also use letter stickers or die cuts.
We use Printshop to make our titles. The headline banner allows all sorts of creative choices. You can also use letter stickers or die cuts. | Source
Cut out your printed out project and mount to the board with a glue stick, double-sided tape or glue dots.  Sometimes we even staple the edges.  You can use paper to mat the photos and writing or just put it on a colorful board background.
Cut out your printed out project and mount to the board with a glue stick, double-sided tape or glue dots. Sometimes we even staple the edges. You can use paper to mat the photos and writing or just put it on a colorful board background. | Source
Save your wrappers from the chocolate chips to decorate the board.   Sophie also made chocolate chips out of paper and we printed off photos of the project.
Save your wrappers from the chocolate chips to decorate the board. Sophie also made chocolate chips out of paper and we printed off photos of the project. | Source

Sample Conclusion

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.

Using Electricity to Change Chocolate Taste

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Comments 5 comments

carmen lopez 23 months ago

I triying to find a science fair project to do right now


jaderivera ade 3 years ago

Getty I love Dr it I'm in the mood for chocolate


Missy Mac profile image

Missy Mac 4 years ago from Illinois

After teaching science, I should have completed an MAED in science I didn't realize the effects of science. I love science as well.


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States Author

Missy Mac--so glad to have you stop by. I just love teaching science experiments to children and it is always fun to have the kids teach me something!


Missy Mac profile image

Missy Mac 4 years ago from Illinois

I was a science fair coordinator and intrigued about the project outcome. I too was surprised that Ghiradelli didn't win. Great job.

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