Saturday, February 23, 2008

Answering one of life's most important questions

Last weekend, my mom and I did a little (well, a lot) of retail therapy that included a few stops at Wal-Mart. On one of these trips, I spotted a display of Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs, and immediately asked, "Oh, Mom! Can I get one PLEASE?" as I tossed it in the cart. Then, as we loaded our bags into the truck, I excitedly looked for the egg in the bags, found it, and savored every bite on the drive home. Yes, I am a five-year-old in 25 plus year old's body.

But I think everyone had Reese's on the brain this week because we spent a fair amount of time at the office discussing the Peanut Butter-to-Chocolate Ratio in the various Reese's products. I firmly believe that the holiday Reese's products--Easter Eggs, Christmas Tree, Pumpkins--have more peanut butter than the standard peanut butter cup. (I also contend that the holiday peanut butter seems "fluffier.") But then a colleague had tried the Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Bunny and mentioned that it seemed a little low on the peanut butter. Interesting. My mind immediately began turning. Then I read in my hometown newspaper that my high school science teacher was retiring. So in her honor, I strapped on my chemistry goggles and stepped into my lab (er, my kitchen) and present the following:

A Very Scientific Inquiry:
The Case of the Reese's Peanut Butter-to-Chocolate Ratio

Hypothesis
I propose that the Reese's holiday peanut butter cup items contain a larger amount of peanut butter than the standard items, thereby having a higher peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio. Note: The only holiday Reese's items currently available for this lab were Eggs and Bunnies. I am sure there is an old Tree or Pumpkin laying around somewhere with it's chocolately coating taking on that white hue that old chocolate takes on. As other holidays pass, I will update the results.

Materials


Reese's original peanut butter cup
Reese's Big Cup
Reese's Easter Egg (My neighborhood grocery store is apparently the only food emporium on the planet to not have Easter candy. I had to take to icy sidewalks of DC and trek to the CVS in the next neighborhood over to find one.)
Reese's Easter Bunny
A Digital Scale that measures in ounces and grams (I measured in grams to detect small differences.)
Toothpicks (my high tech scrapey tools)

Procedure
I separated each item into two bowls: One for the peanut butter; the other for the chocolate parts. To get the most accurate separation, I used a toothpick to scrape the peanut butter off of the chocolate. Once separated, I weighed the peanut butter parts and the chocolate parts and recorded the data.

Data
The weights for the peanut and the chocolate were as follows. Using this data, I also calculated the peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio for each item.
Reese's Item Total Weight Peanut Butter Weight in grams

(Percentage of Total Weight)

Chocolate Weight in grams

(Percentage of Total Weight)

Peanut Butter-to-Chocolate Ratio

Original Cup

20

8

(40%)

12

(60%)

0.67

Big Cup

40

10

(25%)

30

(75%)

0.33

Easter Egg

34

20

(59%)

14

(41%)

1.7

Easter Bunny

36

6

(17%)

30

(83%)

0.26


(P.S. I html coded that data table all by myself....GO ME!)

Conclusion
As I predicted, the Reese's Easter Egg had the highest peanut butter-to-chocolate ratio. However, this high ratio is not found in all holiday items as the Easter Bunny had the lowest pb-to-chocolate ratio.

One thing that I noted is that the wrapper for Big Cup brags that the Big Cup "Packs some serious peanut butter." Except that it doesn't. Think about it. The Big Cup contains just one cup in a package for a total of 10 grams of peanut butter If you bought the regular cups with two in pack, you would have 16 grams of peanut butter...all for the same price!

Another observation that I made is that the texture of the regular cup was more chalky than the other items'. Maybe I had a slightly aged cup.

So I was completely fascinated by these results. I cannot wait to weigh other holiday Reese's items as they become available.

(And, yes, I am fully aware that I have far, far, far too much time on my hands.)

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