Study finds humans prefer gold-wrapped chocolate, are fancy little hamsters

Gold-wrapped chocolate truffle surrounded by unwrapped chocolate
I desire it
Image: Dimitri Otis (Getty Images)

You can fight it all you want, but the science doesn’t lie: we humans are greedy creatures who love shiny delights. Specifically, gold foil-wrapped chocolates with “ornate labels.” At least, according to research conducted by food scientists in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and cited in Science Daily. The study found that gold foil, ornate labels, and an “intriguing backstory” are all highly desirable characteristics when it comes to premium chocolate consumption. (“Intriguing backstory” referring more to the chocolate’s artisanal origins, less to the fact that a toon killed its brother.)

First, study participants were asked to place 47 different chocolate product stickers into different categories like “artisan,” “Halloween candy,” and “special occasion.” Participants were then asked to taste five chocolate bars across three categories: mainstream (a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar), premium (a Lindt Cocoa Dark Chocolate Bar, a Green and Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate Bar, and an Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds), and craft (Dandelion Chocolate 70% Ambanja, Madagascar).

Overall, participants responded “favorably” to every sample, which makes sense because I’m certainly not gonna kick free chocolate out of bed. However, participants across the board judged product quality based on outer cues (like fancy, fancy packaging) instead of intrinsic cues (like, eh, flavor). Participants also determined pricier products to be of higher quality. “These are more sophisticated, so my brain just thinks they must taste better, so they must be high quality,” said one participant. “Also, they’re more expensive.” Ah, our wits are so easily addled by luxury. It’s like luxurious king Oscar Wilde says: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Wait, that’s no star—that’s a Ferrero Rocher. Bring the golden snack unto my waiting lips posthaste!

Staff writer @ The Takeout, joke writer elsewhere. Wrangling dogs and pork shoulder in Chicago.

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My candy of choice is See’s chocolates, there’s a factory in West LA, stores dot the landscape, upon entering any of those they give you a free sample of your choosing. NONE OF THEM NEED TO BE WRAPPED IN PRETTY THINGS TO MAKE THEM GOOD. Half the time I’ll just take it in wax paper bag instead of a box, the only danger is my gal will inhale them even faster that way.

Pretty wrappers only obfuscate the important things, the chocolate itself. A low-quality chocolate wrapped in fancy gold is worth less to me than a high-quality chocolate wrapped in paper.