Scientists have been exploring what makes foods crispy or crunchy for decades—now it’s your turn!
Have you heard about our Young Chefs’ Club? Members get a themed (and kid-tested) box delivered each month!
3 wide, thin, and crispy or crunchy snack foods, such as:
Make a prediction: Crispy and crunchy are two words that are often used interchangeably to describe food texture, but they actually mean different things. Which of your snack foods do you think are crispy? Which do you think are crunchy? Why do you think so?
Use sheet of paper and pencil to create a recording sheet for your results. Draw line down center of paper to create 2 columns. Label 1 column “Crispy” and second column “Crunchy.”
Observe your results: Find a quiet space. Eat 1 or 2 of each chip or cracker. As you chew, pay attention to what it sounds like: Does it sound crispy (higher pitched) or crunchy (lower pitched)? Based on your observations, write the name of each chip or cracker in the “Crispy” or “Crunchy” column on your sheet of paper.
Before you begin, use a pencil to write the name of each chip or cracker on the back of your sheet of paper.
Observe your results: Repeat test 3 times with each type of chip or cracker, recording readings on scale next to each chip or cracker’s name.
First is sensory analysis: A group of people use their senses (touch, sight, smell, taste, hearing) to rate different properties of food. You did some sensory analysis when you compared the sounds of eating different foods. This kind of testing is subjective: Each person gives their own opinion, so everyone’s answers might be slightly different.
Second is texture analysis: Special machines measure different properties of foods, such as the crispiness of a potato chip or the softness of a muffin. You did a kind of texture analysis when you measured how much force it took to break each food. This kind of testing is objective: No opinions are involved, just measurements and numbers.
Scientists use a combination of sensory analysis AND texture analysis to help them understand what people like and don’t like about different foods. Sensory analysis tells us what people experience when they’re eating. Texture analysis gives us details on the exact properties of different foods, such as crunchiness and chewiness. Machines can measure these properties much better than people—and since they don’t eat, there aren’t any foods they don’t like!