When I was little, I categorically refused to eat Hoppin’ John. At some point I got into my head (I think my dad helped), that Hoppin’ John was not in fact black-eyed peas, but some dude named John’s actual eyes. As a replacement to the annual tradition of eating black-eyed peas my mom cleverly replaced them with jelly beans. And not just any jelly beans, Jelly Belly Jelly Beans; a bag full of all my favorites without a licorice or buttered popcorn in sight. They were shaped the same and had bean in the name, we figured the luck would carry over.
Now at age twenty-six with a kid of my own, I still get jelly beans for the new year. I also eat black-eyed peas, as does my kiddo, but why give up an opportunity for guaranteed Jelly Bellies? This year I took it to a new level. One of Oklahoma’s many Route 66 destinations is a fun little place called Pop’s in Arcadia. (A definite must-stop for anyone who is traveling Route 66, I-35, or passing through central Oklahoma!) Pop’s specializes in bottled soda, the old school kind with metal bottle caps and glass. If you can think of it Pop’s either has it or will order it on request. Thus far I’ve tried Mint Julip Soda, Lenin-ade, Cat Pee Soda, and Rum Soda. But on my most recent trip I spotted Jelly Belly Gourmet Soda. It came in ten varieties all based on popular flavors of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. I scooped up six of them and immediately commenced planning an experiment.
I made every effort to create a sound experiment process and am giving you the opportunity to try it with your own geeklets. The experiments consists of three phases. This is a great opportunity to chat up the scientific method, experiment methodology, and lab safety. You’ll not need any more equipment then what you likely already have floating around in your home.
- Measuring device – I used a syringe for cool effect but that’s because I own a syringe. If your kitchen is not quite as geeked out as mine then an 1/8 cup measuring cup or a tablespoon are fine too.
- Clean cups – In true controlled environment form, you should use a new cup for each flavor/flavor combination. But I’m trying to be more green, so we used re-usable plastic cups and rinsed them REALLY well.
- Sodas – I found that one bottle each of the six flavors gave me plenty to work with for a test group of five.
- Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Flavors to match the sodas you’ve selected. You’ll want about 20 beans per flavor per subject. Again, for all six flavors with five subjects, it was still under a pound of candy.
- Plates or small containers to separate each flavor of bean
- Palette Cleanser – We used oyster crackers
- Cool Drinking Water – one glass for each subject or participant
Pre-Experiment (Hypothesis & Prediction)
Set each soda near the plate of associated beans. Have your subjects (kids) right down which soda they think they will like best and then which jelly bean they will like best. Discuss why they think that. Is it the same soda and bean or different? Is it because they already know what they taste like? If they have never tried the soda or the bean before, what do they think it will taste like? Which ones do they look forward to trying the most, which are they most concerned about? Write down your hypotheses and predictions for later use.
Try one bean (just one!) of the first flavor and rate it on the following scale.*
- Really Tasty
Now repeat this process for each bean. Be sure to cleanse your palette between each taste. Record your data on a sheet of paper. Write down the flavor’s name and your rating. If more than one person is tasting at a time, encourage your testers, or subjects, to write down the rating and THEN discuss their reactions. This helps cut down on the influenced biases.
After you’ve finished tasting and rating each jelly bean, repeat this with just a sip of soda, rating each individually,cleansing your palette each time.
*Due to the age category of my subjects I picked a 5-point scale for ease, but feel free to up the scale to a higher number. Remember the more options, the harder the analysis gets later. Just be sure that whatever you choose, you use the same scale all the way through.
Compare/Contrast Soda and Bean
Eat one bean. Take a sip of water. Then take a sip of the correlating soda flavor. Now rate the relation between the two using the following scale.
- Bean and Soda taste exactly the same
- Bean and Soda taste very similar
- Bean and Soda taste somewhat similar
- Bean and Soda have two distinct but related flavors
- Bean and Soda taste nothing alike
This one is a bit tricky to get the gist across. I ended up having to pull other food from the pantry to fully explain, but all my subjects were under ten. If you have an issue getting them to understand what each classification means, try this.
- Fresh Orange and Fresh Orange Juice
- Fresh Apple and Apple Sauce
- Cheeto and Cheese
- Fresh Grape and Grape Soda
- Mashed Potato and Grape Soda
Part of the fun of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans is making “recipes.” This part of the experiment will not be included in the analysis, so if you’d like to break out the rest of the flavors I know full well you purchased while at the candy store, go for it. Go to town and once the sugar high has set in, have them sit to do their data analysis.
We also tried making recipes from the sodas. If the combination worked for the bean we tried it with the soda. Have the subjects write down which recipes tasted best, which ones tasted worst. Remember to play with ratios. (Excellent time to delve into fractions! Ha! Science and math lesson all in one! Yay!) This is where your measuring device comes in. If two Bean A and one Bean B tasted good, measure out two parts Soda A and one part Soda B.
Now that all the data has been collected and recorded, it’s time to analyze the data. You can find the average rating of each flavor of bean and soda by adding each subject’s rating together and then dividing by the number of subjects. Compare your results to your hypotheses and predictions. Did everything turn out the way you thought it would? Are your predicted favorites still your favorites? What beans and soda were most directly related? Is the highest rated bean and the highest rated soda the same? Get Socratic on them and ask questions.
I tried to locate a quick source to buy the Jelly Belly sodas online but was unable. I know that Walgreen’s carries the line from time to time but that’s not too terribly reliable. Jelly Belly does produce a Soda Pop Shoppe line of Jelly Beans. It uses A&W Root Beer, A&W Cream Soda, Orange Crush, Grape Crush, 7-Up, and Dr. Pepper. If you can’t find the Jelly Belly sodas, I believe that Soda Pop Shoppe Jelly Beans and their associated sodas would be just as valid a scientific study.
I performed my own study using the Jelly Belly sodas and related beans and will post my results of our experiment next week. If you perform your own study at home, post your results on GeekMom’s forum under Science, Jelly Belly Experiment!
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