Stats Made Easy

Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Candy is dandy, but for melting the ice, coffee has the hot hand

While cruising the massive Medical Device & Manufacturing show last week in Minneapolis, I noticed many exhibitors trying to entice visitors with a bowl of candy.* It failed to work on me because invariably a salesperson was perched nearby watching for potential prey to be snared by their sweet trap.

Meanwhile, my morning newspaper featured news that, if you want to "bias the situation in your favor," a cup of fresh coffee may be just the trick. So advises University of Colorado psychologist Lawrence E. Williams, who co-authored a study reported in the recent Science journal. This press release by Yale University provides details on the experiments done there to support the theory that “people are more likely to give something to others if they had just held something warm.” A more entertaining write-up on this “sneaky study” is provided by AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard. She reveals that Williams is now a marketing professor (enough said).

I suggest you become beware of strangers offering you hot drinks – a twist on the warning I remember hearing as a child about unknown people offering me candy. Gratuitous coffee, tea or hot cider will be hard for me to resist, especially now that the cold is pouring in (it’s snowing as I write this). Maybe if I keep one hand securely on the billfold my other hand can be free to enjoy the warmth.

*This is an aside, but I must say that I am intrigued by Hershey’s new Take 5 bar, which “provides a unique taste experience by combining five favorite ingredients in one candy bar,” including pretzels! Years ago I taught Mixture Design for Optimal Formulations to their food scientists in Pennsylvania. However, although these methods are great for finding the sweet spot, I never would have thought to add something salty.


  • At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Never thought to add something salty? You're from Minnesota, home of the salted nut roll.


Post a Comment

<< Home