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!