Scientists Still Unable To Explain Popularity Of Non-Chocolate Donuts
Cambridge, MA (AP) – Researchers at Harvard University have announced that despite a ten-year study involving physicists, chemists, biologists, and philosophers, they remain mystified by the phenomenon of non-chocolate donuts that people like.
The study examined sales patterns, manufacturing processes, anatomy, neurology, psychology, marketing, culinary history, genetics, molecular chemistry, and numerous aspects of the non-chocolate donut phenomenon and found themselves thwarted by the same enigma that stumped scientists nearly two decades earlier.
In 1993, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte were examining sales patterns at a chain of Krispy Kreme franchises, and noticed the anomaly of non-chocolate donuts for sale in numbers that could not be accounted for as a gag or novelty item. Apparently, they were being purchased in sufficient quantities as to warrant continual production, despite having no aesthetic or gustatory merit. They then undertook a more comprehensive project to observe who exactly was buying what could only have been the result of a practical joke or a lab experiment gone horribly awry, and to analyze those subjects in an attempt to explain the puzzle.
Over the next six months the scientists led a team of eighty graduate students in various related fields, identifying, tracking, interviewing, and conducting psychological and medical tests on the more than two thousand buyers of non-chocolate donuts at Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme, and assorted local donut establishments along the eastern seaboard. After making minor adjustments for income, the researchers were unable to identify any particular characteristic to correlate with liking the freakish monstrosities. The mystifying results of that study were published in 1994.
The Harvard team sought to harness the power of more advanced computing capabilities to find useful patterns in such a study. For the sake of replicability and academic rigor, they secured a grant to conduct an entirely new and much large study covering a much larger geographic area. The Harvard study, to be published in the journal Science, looked at factors such as race, sex, ancestry, time of day of donut purchase, eyesight, and hearing acuity, but was able to find little more than the previous effort, despite the more powerful statistical tools at its disposal.
The only bit of possible statistical significance that the team discovered involved a suggested correlation between fondness for non-chocolate donuts and a criminal history. Although privacy concerns prevented further exploration of the subjects in this regard, the researchers did report that of the control, or “normal” group, which purchased exclusively chocolate donuts, approximately 8% had been convicted of a crime in the previous ten years, whereas among the purchasers of non-chocolate donuts, the number was closer to 14%. The researchers considered the criminal record data incomplete, because there was no way to independently verify whether respondents were honest about their criminal records.
As a follow-up, the team intends to examine the US prison population, which should offer a robust set of statistics and a strong indication whether non-chocolate donuts correlate with criminal tendencies. Grant proposals have already been submitted in support of a study that, working with state and federal prison officials, would serve both categories of donuts to prisoners and determine the extent to which violent, sociopathic, or criminally insane tendencies are associated with the consumption of non-chocolate donuts.