Do Cookies Taste “Healthy”?

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Updated on Feb 06, 2012

Grade Level: 6th – 8th; Type: Chemistry

Objective:

The purpose of this science project is to determine whether people can actually taste the difference between “healthy” cookies – those that are low in fat, carbohydrates, or calories – and the traditional version.

Research Questions:

  • Do added sugar, carbohydrates, or fat give the most taste to sandwich cookies?
  • Do “healthy” variations of sandwich cookies taste worst than the regular version?

“Low-fat cookies – ew! They’re probably tasteless too.” Is it true that healthy versions of foods actually taste worse? To figure it out, you’ll need to do a double blind study in which people rate the tastes of regular cookies and their healthy alternatives without knowing which is which.

Materials:

  • Four packages of nearly identical sandwich cookies – one regular, one low-fat, one low carb, and one low calorie
  • Four small plastic bags
  • Permanent marker
  • Blindfold
  • Plastic cups
  • Milk or water

Experimental Procedure

1. Place the low-fat cookies into one bag, the low carb cookies into a second bag, the low calorie cookies into a third bag, and the regular cookies into a fourth bag.

2. Label each bag with a letter, and then write down what that letter corresponds to in your notebook. For example, you may want to write down “A = low fat” to remind yourself of which cookies are in each bag.

3. Wrap a blindfold or scarf around your first subject’s eyes.

4. Give the subject a cookie from one of the bags, and let the subject taste it.

5. Instruct the subject to rank the cookie on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of its sweetness, texture, and overall taste.

6. Record your data in a table, such as the one below.

Type of Cookie

Subject
Sweetness
Texture

Overall Taste

Average Rating

A
Sara

Tim

Juan

Average

B
Sara

Tim

Juan

Average

C
Sara

Tim

Juan

Average

D
Sara

Tim

Juan

Average

7. Repeat this process with the remaining bags of cookies, giving the subject a drink of water or milk between each cookie. Record your subject’s ratings for each cookie in the table.

8. Test the cookies with at least two other subjects in the same way.

9. Calculate the average rating of each aspect of each cookie. Then calculate the average rating that that each subject gave each cookie. Finally, calculate the average of all of the ratings for each cookie.

10. Analyze your data. Did your subjects all like the regular cookie better than the others? Or did some of the others rate higher than the regular cookie. How do you think you can explain your results?

Terms/Concepts: What exactly are fat, carbohydrates, and calories?; During the process of making diet sandwich cookies, is anything added, or are certain ingredients just removed?

References:

First Place Science Fair Projects for Inquisitive Kids, by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. Page 25.

Keren Perles has worked as an educational writer, editor, teacher, and tutor of all ages. Her experience spans the subject areas, from science and math, to English and the Hebrew language.

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