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Which Starburst Flavour is Tastiest?

Introduction

Ever wonder which starburst flavor is the best? Now you can, with the help of SCIENCE. Naturally, pink is the best (personal communication, me). But don’t take my word for it, polls from Buzzfeed and Ranker.com both support pink as the best, followed by red, yellow, and orange, respectively. However, these polls rely on retrospective memory and could benefit from experiments where participants provide numeric ratings of each candy immediately after consuming them. Thus, the present experiment has the following research question: What is the rank order of tastiness for the original 4 starburst candy flavors?

Method

Students from my third year research methods in social psychology course (N = 72) completed this experiment between 2016-2018 as part of a class exercise. Each student was given 4 starburst candies, one of each flavor (pink/strawberry, red/cherry, orange, and yellow/lemon). They were instructed to eat each candy sequentially in the same order: pink, red, yellow, and orange. Students rated each candy on a 7-point scale from 1 (Extremely untasty) to 7 (Extremely tasty). Thus, I used a within-subjects design with 4 conditions and no counterbalancing.

Results

Data were analyzed using a Kruskall-Wallis test, setting alpha at .05. Pairwise tests were conducted using Wilcoxon rank-sum tests, correcting alpha using a Bonferroni correction for familywise error rates (alpha = .008). Results are displayed in the two figures below. There was a clear ranked preference with pink emerging as the tastiest, followed by red, orange and yellow. Pairwise tests found statistically significant differences between these pairs: (a) pink-orange, (b) pink-yellow, and (c) red-yellow. Open data and syntax can be found on my OSF page.

Figure 1. Faceted bar plots comparing starburst candy flavors
Figure 2. Box plots with pairwise comparisons using wilcoxon rank-sum tests. Numbers indicate p-values.

Discussion

Overall, the results mostly mirror the results of the polls, except that the rank order of orange and yellow are switched. Pink is indeed the superior flavor of original starburst candy flavors. The lack of counterbalancing is a significant limitation, as people may have gotten sick of eating starburst candies by the last one. This seems unlikely, as starburst are delicious. In sum, science supports pink starburst as the tastiest flavor, and yellow as the least tasty flavor.

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