How Now Brownie Cow

It all started with IP. The conversation turned to vegan food, and as usually happens, someone will eventually say that vegan food is a waste of calories and inferior to non-vegan food. I think the vegan brownies I make aren’t that bad, and usually have people going for seconds, or thirds, so I thought maybe I could complete against a non-vegan brownie.

I’ve never made non-vegan brownies before, and my first attempt was a disaster (tried to do a full batch in a smaller baking tin, and the outside burned before the inside was cooked (even considering brownies are meant to be undercooked in the middle). I made a half-batch and it turned out much better.

Vegan brownie recipe:

Non-vegan brownie recipe:

Anyway, the usual set-up, plate A was the vegan one, and plate B was the non-vegan one. I also put one each on IP’s desk to make sure he’d get his own sample, as well as Jal, because he’s my new experiment design consultant, and I wanted to know what he thought.

I didn’t want to bias the results by asking people to guess which one was the vegan one, and I thought it wouldn’t matter whether they knew or not (is that unethical?) as long as they were judging based on taste. But I asked Jal and IP to guess which was the vegan one. Jal picked B almost right away, saying that he figured the better tasting one would be the non-vegan one. IP said he had an idea, but wanted to know what the ingredients were for each before guessing (as in, he wanted me to tell him the ingredients of the vegan and non-vegan brownies, without telling him which is which). He picked B as well.

As for the taste test part, B won quite convincingly.

9 votes for A
23 votes for B
1 vote for both

One person even wrote this on their vote:

It looks like the people have spoken: vegan isn’t as good as non-vegan. Or maybe I have to continue my search for a vegan brownie recipe.

I wish I had put more thought into trying to get a scale out of the experiment, rather than a binary A vs B result, so I could tell just how bad the vegan brownie was compared to the non-vegan one. I found out who wrote the vote above, and he said that B was easily superior to A, so I’m guessing they were quite far apart in quality levels.

As I found with my number guessing experiment, people don’t follow complex instructions, so making the set-up too complicated results in a poor response rate (and the food being eaten for nothing!).

What I also find interesting with these experiments is that the food is usually all gone by lunchtime. I put out 50 brownie pieces, but only ended up getting 33 votes. Where did 17 of the votes go?

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