Hello! This is my Literature Review, Methods, Limitations, and a part of my Results/Analysis portion for my AP Research paper. I wanted to investigate how the cultural background of Koreans versus Americans interacts with food temperature to alter the taste perception of the chocolate chip cookie. My analysis was divided into smaller, thematically divided subsections coupled with results subsections. I did not include the results nor the analysis portion for the quantitative Phase 1 portion and partially excluded the results/analysis in Phase 2 due to large graphs & tables and also for the economy of my thread. Thank you for taking the time to offer feedback.
AP Research paper
Cultural upbringing plays a significant role in determining our lifelong food habits. Influenced by tides of war and industrialization, sugar became a primary example of how historical, political, and biological influences impact our contemporary diets. Sugar research has also revealed the importance of scientific and biological factors in taste perception-the sensory qualities of the foods we consume are determined by our taste signaling and digestive system, programmed to preserve the highest amount of energy in the shortest amount of time. The majority of our eating habits are evolutionarily engineered to revolve around the sensory satisfaction or 'hedonic value' gained from eating in itself (Chaudhari & Roper, 2010; Garcia-Bailo et al., 2009; Jayasinghe, 2017). Sugar is particular to this notion of sensory satisfaction-of the 5 tastes, we are naturally drawn to the tempting, euphoric, and endorphin-inducing taste of sweetness (Yudkin, 1972). Culturally and scientifically relevant in contemporary society, sugar is a hallmark of gustatory research-its implications spur from the beginning of human history to our foreseeable culinary future.
One particular sensory factor, temperature, was shown to have a strong influence on the way we perceive the food we consume. In particular, temperature's interaction with sweetness demonstrated its significance to our hedonic biology due to its strong associations with calorific foods (Lipscomb et al., 2016). Though temperature's role in taste is a topic that has been previously explored, much of its interactions with sweetness perception remain unresearched, especially through analyses that incorporate socio-cultural factors into its experimental process (Green, 1993). In a broader context, how the combination of cultural and scientific factors influences our sugar reception has also been a widely researched topic-sugar research has tended to focus on statistical analyses of health and consumption trends (Bernstein et al., 2005; Han & Lissa, 2014). With this considered, an analysis based on individual sugar perception-incorporating primarily socio-cultural elements through isolated comparison of American versus Korean cultural upbringing, historical analysis, and interviews, and adding scientific elements by focusing specifically on taste-temperature interactions-will be the method of my study, geared to contextualizing sugar hedonics through a more personal lens.
Psychological research on anecdotal storytelling shows that individual experiences often trump statistics from larger experimental groups when inducing a personal effect on the reader (Boris, 2019). An eclectic personal analysis of individual taste experience, upbringing, and cultural background in analyzing sugar consumption could offer a more restorative and resonating conclusion, adding insight to culturalism and its relationship with our contemporary palates and lifestyle in the field of sugar research.
Taste is both inherently biological and cultural. Yet, there is a lack of literature that compares cultural aspects to the scientific implications-especially surrounding taste-temperature interactions-of sugar consumption (Green, 1993). Culinary differences are most clearly exhibited in dichotomies of East-West societies. An interesting exception, however, is present between two such dichotomous countries. Notably, South Korea and the United States exhibit clear cultural distinctions yet also share notable overlaps in their history (Barthes, 2012; Bok, 2007; Lee, 2018; Lee, 2019). Although there has been previous research surrounding Korean-American differences in sugar consumption patterns, no specific investigation has approached the topic by incorporating both qualitative cultural elements with scientific interpretations (Green, 1993). The importance of a mixed-method investigation is highlighted by the nature of consumption and food studies-as much as our taste is a biological, sensory modality, it is also a hallmark of sociocultural influences. Culture and science are intermingled in many discussions of taste perception-how these factors cooperate in both contexts in Korean and American culture will be explored in the following literature review.
In a diversifying food industry, socio-cultural factors play a large role in our consumption choices (Birch & Hind, 1980). Sugar has gained significance as a part of various cultures' culinary heritage-embedded into our traditions and appealing to our nostalgia, sugar has enforced its increasing consumption trends. (Barthes, 2012).
In Western cultures, it is typical for diets to be based heavily upon sweeter and saltier dishes in comparison to their non-Western counterparts (Barthes, 2012). Dietical dichotomies are evident, especially among sweets and desserts which hold cultural and nostalgic significance. For example, typical American desserts require large amounts of refined flour, fat, and white sugar to make, whereas in many East Asian cultures, desserts are often sweetened with alternatives such as honey or maltose and traditionally made with unrefined grains and raw nuts (Parks, 2017; Lee, 2018). Ingredient availability determines what kind of food we make, and consequently, traditionally American dessert 'staples' such as pies and cookies often differ vastly from their Korean counterparts' (Perry et al., 2002). In the words of Mikkilä et al., our isolated eating patterns during childhood often determine our future consumption patterns from an early age (Mikkilä et al., 2004). Being exposed to isolated eating patterns-such as a significant amount of refined sugar in one's diet during childhood-could, therefore, determine an individual's lifelong food preferences and consumption patterns from an early age.
Exploration of cultural upbringing and food preferences offers insight into our culturally influenced eating patterns, but historical conversations on sugar consumption offer more objectivity to our biology-driven behaviors. The contrasts of different cultures explain not only our differing relationships with sugar but also add insight to the importance of history in the role of taste perception between Americans and Koreans.
The saccharine history of the United States dates as far back as its colonial era. Sugar as an American commodity can be attributed to its significance as what foreign policy professor April Merleaux calls the 'spoils of victory.' In one candy store in Iowa, a replica of the battleship USS Maine was created through candied glass, sweets, and hills of pastry-even decades after the war had occurred (Merleaux, 2015). As the U.S. expanded overseas after the Spanish-American war, exclusionary policies built upon racial homogeneity changed the course of sugar politics. Such conflicts pushed the United States government to establish a market where both mainland sugar producers and foreign territorial producers would benefit equally. Even in times of colonial unrest, liberalism in commercial affairs remained prevalent, driven by waves of uprisings against 'undemocratic principles' (Merleaux, 2015; Sussman, 1994). With a sugar industry built upon fundamentally American ideals, Merleaux would go so far as to say that sugar, on the granular level, is embedded into American policies and culture.
The history of South Korean sugar production shares both differences and similarities with its American counterpart. Initially isolated from the rest of the world, Korea's economic development was under Japanese mercy during colonization between the 1910s and 1940s-much of its developments could be characterized by what UC Berkeley researcher Young-Suk Lee calls 'colonial modernity.' The modernization of Korea, he says, was not necessarily self-sustaining; a parallel of American colonialism under British rule. Amidst the historical juxtapositions, the implications of South Korea's independence from Japan continue to affect contemporary Korean society. According to Eun-hee Lee, a professor at Yonsei University and author of Sugar: The Contemporary Revolution, sugar became a commodity far later than its American counterpart. Whereas the United States had to sanction protection laws like the Jones-Costigan Sugar Act due to sugar oversupply in the 1920s (Krueger, 1988), sugar in South Korea was a scarce luxury up until the post-colonial 1940s.
After Korean liberation from Japan in the mid-1940s, the sugar industry destabilized. Sugar was provided as a part of the American relief system for postcolonial South Korea in compensation for the abolishment of Japanese control of the rice industry (Lee, 2018). However, such American relief systems were often invasive and insensitive to the instability of the freshly liberated South Korean market. In October of 1945, the U.S. military government suspended all remaining Japanese control of the South Korean rice industry in an attempt to instate a capitalistic market (Lee, 2018). However, this resulted in rice prices skyrocketing due to supply shortages. Faced with a food crisis, the US government abandoned this system and instead sanctioned a nationwide rice collection and rationing system. This was a significant event for Korean sentiments towards America-many farmers resisted this forced collection as it paralleled a similar Japanese collection system where no rations were returned to Korean citizens.
The U.S. government responded by dedicating parts of its Korean GARIOA (Government Aid and Relief in Occupied Areas) to importing foreign biscuits and candies worth $150,000 USD, which was again followed by public outrage. Quoted from an article excerpt from the Korean Freedom Press in 1946, "We struggle to buy real meals for ourselves these days, how do they expect us to pay huge sums of ration money just for us to receive an unnecessary luxury like candy?". There was a strong belief that this was the beginning of an American 'mouth washing' of Korean citizens that would permanently Westernize the Korean food market-leading many to believe that the U.S. would commercialize Korea to turn into an economic colony. As a result, sugar gained relevance in Korea as a prime commodity to avoid importing to achieve socioeconomic independence in times of uncertainty-a sentiment strongly influenced by U.S. involvement in rebuilding the Korean economy.
Though interconnected in various aspects of their saccharine history, the modern cultural standpoint of the United States versus South Korea differs tremendously in a more anthropological context. History shaped both nations' food cultures, but the American notion of a 'unified' food culture has widely been discredited (Wallach, 2012; Merleaux, 2015). While the essence of Korean food culture partly stems from the monocultural and homogenous pride and unity, the United States is antithetical in that racial diversity and immigration were the primary essence that gave the 'American-ness' of its cuisine (Wallach, 2012; Merleaux, 2015). In the more narrow context of sugar consumption and desserts, similar principles apply- 'American' sugar consumption patterns are, by definition, prone to more variability in comparison to Korean ones. As a result, a sole cultural analysis, at least in the context of American sugar consumption, is not holistic enough to contextualize sugar consumption on an accurate basis. However, taste can be characterized and understood in a more quantifiable manner-often through a scientific context.
Scientific perspectives occupy a unique niche in the field of taste and sugar perception research. Taste is defined, according to Barry Green of the Yale School of Medicine, as the "oral experience produced during the ingestion of a food or beverage." A product of our rich evolutionary history, our taste was developed as a "sensory modality" that guides organisms to avoid toxins and consume nutrients (Chaudhari & Roper, 2010)-and amidst patterns of cultural divergence, our biological heritage has remained vastly similar, and our ability to adapt and habituate to different tastes remain present (Theunissen et al., 2000).
One interesting variable, temperature, has been investigated specifically on its role in sugar hedonics. Researchers like Green proposed a U-shaped curve among the four of the basic tastes-sour, salty, bitter, and umami-where as a function of temperature, taste detection was done most effectively with the least amount of stimuli between 20°c and 30°c. According to his findings, foods or beverages heated to temperatures above 30°c inhibited the effectiveness of reception.
Sweetness, however, played a more unique role when interacting with temperature. Keri Lipscomb and their colleagues at Clemson University investigated how the perceived intensity of sweet taste was affected by serving temperature. With foods served at 60°c being perceived as much more intense than when served at room temperature or cold (3°c), These results aligned with the findings of Baroshuk et al. (1981), Calvino (1983), Schiffman et al. (2000), and Talavera et al. (2005). Green's findings also revealed that the perceived sweetness of sucrose, fructose, and glucose increased within the range of 20°c and 36°c-Yet, contrary to Lipscomb et al., this pattern was inversely related to the taste intensity of the food product itself-too strong of a taste stimulus would lessen the effect of temperature on taste perception. These interactions between sweetness intensity and temperature are clearly significant and provide insight as to why much remains to be learned about temperature-taste interactions (Green, 1993.) Though not considered a sole determinant of hedonic perception, temperature was shown to be a significant factor contributing to sweetness intensity. Previous research data clearly situate flavor perception and temperature in correlation with each other.
To explore the scientific, historical, and cultural influences on taste perception, an experimental study was constructed involving measuring the differences in taste perception of an American 'staple' food-chocolate chip cookies-in Korean and American adult individuals. Selection of the 'Korean' and 'American' cultural groups was decided by considering the availability of participants (as a resident of South Korea attending a school with a primarily American staff population), East-West dichotomies in Korean and American culture, and personal proficiency in Korean and American culture. The goal of the experiment was to determine how a quantitative scientific variable-temperature perception-interacted with a participant's cultural upbringing (Korean/American) to influence their taste perception of an American staple, the chocolate chip cookie.
The study was divided into two phases, involving a mixed-method experimental design. The first phase was a quantitative study that used two measurement systems to allow participants to rank the taste perception of the different chocolate chip cookies. The two scales were used to measure taste perception, which was divided into two categories: taste intensity and hedonic value. The second phase involved a recorded verbal interview phase that contextualized the quantitative information through a personal analysis of the participant's experiences during upbringing (Appendix B). This second phase also acted as a precautionary measure to identify any outlying experiences that may have drastically influenced the participant's perception ranking of the chocolate chip cookie.
Sampling occurred in Yongsan International School of Seoul, where the primarily American and South Korean staff population was targeted for participation. Various delimitations were set in place to reduce confounding variables during the participant collection process. A participant's cultural background was determined through years of residence in one's home country (minimum of 10> years since birth), a decision made to maximize the cultural variables that would have contributed to upbringing and therefore eating habits. Therefore, an 'American' participant would need to reside in the United States for a minimum of 10 years from birth in order to have had an 'American' upbringing. A survey (Appendix A) was sent out schoolwide to gather participants. To minimize confounding variables that could affect taste perception other than cultural background and cookie temperature, those who have been/are pregnant in the past 3 months, those diagnosed with a nasal or oral condition, those who have been/are infected with COVID-19, and those who have a known chronic metabolic illness were prohibited from participating in the study. There is still a possibility that other factors (such as an unknown genetic illness or an unrepresentative sample due to the experimental group being limited to school staff members) affected the results of the study. With the available resources, however, bias was minimized through a random sampling and assignment process and pre-experimental questionnaires.
Within each participant group of 7 people, 6 were randomly assigned to an experimental group while 1 was assigned to a positive control group, given 'placebo' cookies of the identical temperature (65±3°c). Although more control participants would have been favorable for the reliability of the experiment, the lack of available participants limited the number of control group participants available. Therefore, to ensure that the experimental group's results were most reliable, a decision was made to select 1 participant for the control group of each background.
Each cookie tasting was followed by room temperature water to cleanse the palate and ensure that tasting accuracy was maximized. The standard deviation equation () was used to calculate the error bars for each tasting group to determine the statistical significance of the difference between the results. Although the temperature of the tongue and not just the food item has an impact on the participant's taste perception, changes in tongue temperatures are difficult to produce under normal circumstances because of the tongue's frequent vascularization (Green, 1993). To accommodate for this issue as much as possible, each participant gargled with room-temperature water (27±3°c) for 30 seconds before tasting their first sample.
Various ethical considerations were relevant to my study. Because my experiment is based primarily on food administration, extra precautions were made during the baking and experimentation process. Latex gloves and masks were worn at all times, and all surfaces were sanitized during baking. The pre-experimental questionnaire ensured voluntary participation through its consent form, and any participants with potential risk from participation were excluded from the study (e.g. participants with a metabolic condition or diabetes.) To ensure privacy, only a participant's nationality, age, and sex were disclosed in the study, and all audio recordings of interviews were notified of and discarded after the experiment.
The chocolate chip cookies were baked using a recipe ('The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies') made by Tasty Co., an American food and recipe organization based on Buzzfeed Inc. The specific recipe, cooking time, and resting time were denoted on the Appendices (Appendix X). Recipes were sought on the basis of their 'Americanness' to ensure that participants received a true 'American' version of the American dessert staple-hence, an effort was made to identify a popular recipe among Americans made by an American company. To ensure the reliability of cookie quality and type, a new batch was made the day before each experiment and the chocolate chunks in each cookie were measured to 8 grams and chopped into 8 equally sized pieces (Appendix X.) Specific ingredients and chocolate type were indicated in Appendix X.
The first phase involved the quantitative data collection phase, in which 3 cookie samples of varying temperatures (8±3°c ('cold'), 27±3°c ('room temperature'), and 65±3°c ('hot'), respectively) were administered in random order to the participants. The cookies were either 1. Refrigerated, or 2. microwaved to achieve the desired temperature. The tasting began after all 3 cookies had cooled or warmed up to their appropriate temperature range, and each cookie was measured with a food thermometer (Appendix B) then served immediately after. Cookie administration was random-a random spinner wheel (Appendix) was used to select serving orders. Considering the fact that minimal temperature changes could occur during transportation to the participant, a range of ±3°c for each temperature group was implemented. Participants were asked to rank the three different cookies based on their taste intensity (the perceived intensity of the sweetness and richness of the cookie. Richness was defined as the fattiness or oiliness of the cookie) and hedonic value.
Taste is frequently measured by a range of psychophysical measurements in the scientific community (Lipscomb et al., 1993). Among these qualities, taste intensity and hedonic value pertained widely to sweetness perception. To accurately measure both taste intensity and hedonic value, each subcategory had its own respective measurement scale (the general labeled magnitude scale-gLMS-for taste intensity, and the 9-point hedonic scale for taste hedonics). The general labeled magnitude scale is a scale that measures, from a scale of 0 to 95, the taste intensity of a food product. The key features of the gLMS are the unequal, quasi-logarithmic spacing of its verbal labels and the presence of the 'strongest imaginable' label as its upper bound. The gLMS has been proven to be a valid tool to quantify gustatory intensity exclusive of pain and has been used in various research experiments regarding gustation (Cicerale et al., 2012, Green et al., 1996). The 9-point hedonic scale is the most widely used scale to measure food acceptability; the scale has been used for over 50 years and has been utilized as well as reappraised by many researchers ("The 9 Point Hedonic Scale", Wichchukit & O'Mahony, 2014). Unlike the gLMS, the 9-point hedonic scale is spaced out equally, with each 'point' representing an equivalent psychological perception of the hedonic value of the food product. These two accredited scales were the primary basis of measurement in Phase 1 of the experiment. To ensure that each participant knew how to utilize the scales appropriately, the Phase 1 form (Appendix A) was printed out with background information on the measurement scales and a brief introduction to utilizing the two scales appropriately.
The second phase was the interview portion which consisted of a total of 8 questions (Appendix). Interviews were conducted verbally and transcribed using interview transcription software. Participants from both backgrounds were asked a set of questions that were divided into two categories: background questions and taste perception questions. The background questions were aimed to contextualize responses from the taste perception questions and served as the foundation for the individual and anecdotal element that I aimed to have as the essence of my research.
The results and analysis section was divided into smaller subsections following these distinctions. For Phase 1, results for 'taste intensity' and 'hedonic value' were organized both verbally and graphically. The analysis for Phase 1 was incorporated into the 'holistic analysis' section to contextualize it with the analysis for phase 2. For phase 2, results were introduced thematically into four subsections, two of which belonged to the 'background' section and two of which belonged to the 'taste perception' section. Each subsection was followed by an individual analysis. The holistic analysis portion aimed to weave the thematic connections between the subsections in Phase 2 with the quantitative results in Phase 1.
To analyze question responses from each group concisely, interview questions were referred to by the letter 'Q' followed by the question number-for example, responses to question 5 would be denoted as 'responses to Q5'. Similarly, interviewees will be labeled based on their background, sex, and age. For example, a 35-year-old American female participant will be denoted as AM/F/35. Any participants who did not wish to have their age disclosed have their age replaced by the acronym UND, followed by a number (such as UND1 and UND2) if there were more than 1 participant in the background group that did not want their age disclosed.
1.1: Analysis (Results Section Excluded)
Results from subsection 1.1 pointed to varying topics of significance. The 'store bought' phenomenon exhibited by Korean participants versus the 'pie' phenomenon exhibited by American participants embodied the culturally influenced motives behind dish selection. Naming pie (another American staple like the chocolate chip cookie) as a childhood staple reflected the nostalgic and traditional element valued by the majority of American participants; there was an element of complexity, where family tradition, nostalgia, and traditional 'staples' were involved, that was not present in the Korean participants.
Topics discussed in the literature review pose an explanation for these patterns: in the midst of globalization and increasing sugar consumption trends, most Koreans may have interpreted the term 'sweet dish' in a more Westernized context. Reflected by the findings of Lee (2018) and the Korean Liberation Press, The selection of dessert staples by Korean participants centered around products such as cookies and cakes-usually unpopular, or at least uncommon, to eat on a Korean household basis. Like Lee suggested, the Korean selection of 'store-bought' desserts as opposed to American participants suggests the correlation with the remnants of colonialism-the American effort of reconstructing Korean society post-Japanese occupation introduced foreign desserts to Korean society, standardizing the Western notion of contemporary desserts.
While these participants have likely tried traditional Korean desserts, these staples may have lost their significance under the general umbrella term of 'sweet dishes'. In an American context, the use of the phrase 'sweet dish' is more prevalent in the historical and traditional aspects of contemporary American culture. Trends of globalization support the Americanized definition of 'sweet dishes', with Western desserts being predominant in many global markets. Like Merleaux suggested, sugar as an American commodity is embedded at a granular level into American society through political celebration. Sugar consumption in Korea was antithetical in that the introduction of sugar opposed societal values, threatening economic autonomy at a time of social instability.
Traditionally 'American' dishes, in contrast to 'Korean' ones, are more widely made, preserved, and normalized by Americans. Pie, for example, is a distinctly American dessert like the chocolate chip cookie-consisting of traditionally Western ingredients, there is nothing 'as American as apple pie'. The preservation of pie as a timeless childhood favorite and a 'family tradition' exemplifies the distinctly American preservation of its 'traditional' desserts (Merleaux, 2015). Korean households did not have the impetus of globalization nor the resources after colonization to preserve such Korean staples (Lee, 2018).
The majority of participants also indicated that they did not actively seek chocolate chip cookies nor had them as a staple of their diet. This could be attributed to a multitude of factors-first, the vast availability of desserts, American or not, likely deterred participants from regularly seeking the chocolate chip cookie. Second, the chocolate chip cookie is limited in its application. Unlike the pie, which is customizable in various aspects, the definition of a chocolate chip cookie is inflexible-it must have both chocolate and flour-based dough, and it usually can only have those two things to remain in the parameter of the chocolate chip cookie. Thus, the application of the chocolate chip cookie by its definition is limited, contributing to the lack of its regular desirability.
1.2: Background (Results): International Travel or Residency as an Influence on Taste Perception
Travel affected Korean & American participants in varying manners. KR/F/30, who moved to America when she was 12 years old and lived there for 6 years, was one of the 6 Korean participants that had immigrated to another country at some point. "I felt more accustomed to Western food than Korean food, to be honest. I didn't like spicy food at all, so I actually liked Western cuisine more." Another Korean participant, KR/M/55, had lived in Japan for 4 years, where he tried pizza for the first time in his life. "I tried it once, and I liked it so much," he began, "and it was something I didn't try back in Korea." KR/F/26, who immigrated to India for 6 years during her late teens, shared a similar experience to KR/M/55. "I used to eat only Korean school lunch when I was young ... When I went to India, I had so many different types of food, like pizza for one day and Korean food [for another]." However, the branching of culinary preferences was not the only aspect of food preferences brought by international travel. KR/F/47, who lived in France, shared her experience with international living and illness. "I lived in France, and the food was very buttery and cheesy. Korean food is much healthier, but it was completely unavailable. My health declined rapidly." KR/F/UND1, who lived in Australia, shared a contrasting experience regarding food availability. "I did eat a bit greasier for sure," she began, "but I don't think [my food habits] changed at all ... Korean foods [in Australia] were still available."
One Korean participant was an exception to this consensus of travel. KR/F/UND2, who had never lived abroad, responded to the question of residency and its impact on her food habits (Q5) differently. "When I was really young, I was always thinking about going on a diet," she began, "because all the K-POP idols and television shows would tell us to do it. Now, I eat because I have to survive," she said.
Due to the nature of the study's location, all American participants had resided in at least 1 country outside of the United States. AM/F/37, who enjoys sweet foods regularly, detailed her experience in the Swahili island of Zanzibar. "There weren't a lot of processed or sweetened foods in Zanzibar, so my dessert options were often just M&Ms," she said. AM/M/70, who lived on the small Korean island of Geoje, detailed a contrasting experience. "The allowance for each meal there was 300 won (approximately $2 USD with inflation) ... my protein of the day was maybe an egg, with some rice. I lost 25 pounds in about 3 months." AM/F/38 also shared a similar experience as an American immigrant in Korea. "[When I came to Korea], I didn't eat the rice, so I lost about ten kilos just from not eating processed food. Pastries ... were also not as sweet as I was accustomed to [in America]. [I think the] price of American goods was a bigger problem than availability. Everything was so expensive." AM/M/32 also explains his change in diet in Afghanistan. "Fresh produce was difficult ... we had to soak everything in iodine water to sanitize it from bacteria and parasites. We ate poorly for two years with lots of carbs and little to no vegetables."
The adaptability of our taste was a prominent topic in AM/M/38's experiences. "Living in Montenegro, foods were largely raw or grilled with no seasoning on them, even salt and pepper. Even that was considered spicy," he began. "But, my taste buds adjusted to that blandness. When we moved to [the country of] Georgia, we had a lot of intense flavors and spice, which overwhelmed me at first."
To further the understanding of how taste perception could be affected by residency, participants were also asked to name a dish they initially disliked but were accustomed to and now enjoy eating. 'Vegetables' were a shared answer among two participants-KR/F/30 and AM/M/38. AM/M/38, who grew up in rural Illinois, shared a more distinct experience. "Leafy greens, probably. I never had salad until I was 18 years old. I thought it was rabbit food and horrible-my diet growing up was white bread, ham, and mayo, with an occasional roasted meat with mashed potatoes." "I had never eaten any sort of international food before I lived abroad," said AM/M/30. "I've never tried a curry or Thai food until I was 21, actually, but my roommate introduced it to me," said AM/F/33. "In college, my roommates made ramen, and I thought it looked and smelled gross..." began AM/F/37, " but I really like it now, I love eating it." Some Korean participants also shared similar experiences. "I didn't like Vietnamese food growing up because of the spices and the cilantro," said both KR/F/UND1 and KR/F/26.
Even so, Korean participants showed a more evident pattern of disliking and being accustomed to traditionally Korean dishes. "I hated hong-eo (a Korean dish made of fermented stingray), it smelled very strong and almost disgusting", said KR/F/29."I hated Chung-guk-jang (a Korean stew dish made of fermented beans) but I like it now," said KR/F/47. In contrast, none of the American participants had named an American dish they had disliked but became accustomed to.
Our upbringing predisposes us to our culinary choices, but taste as a sensory modality is inherently malleable. With the experiment being conducted in an international school setting, international travel and residency after childhood was a significant experience among the majority of participants.
Most of the Korean participants agreed, when asked about their international residency and food habits, that their eating was impacted in a both positive and negative manner. The branching of culinary preferences as a positive result and health decline as a negative result of international residency were two prominent topics. In the case of KR/F/UND1 and KR/F/47, who agreed that their eating habits became 'greasier' after their international experience, a standard level of 'greasiness' that the Korean participants were accustomed to was implied. This Korean tendency reflected Barthes' (2012) and Birch & Hind's (1980) discovery regarding psychosocial perception differences based on upbringing, especially in East-West societies. American participants characterized their foreign food habits in a more limiting light-most Americans implied a forced change in their food habits involved with eating abroad. International residency as a contradiction to preexisting preferences in upbringing was a prominent theme among American participants. This was another notion that could be attributed to the Westernization of global cuisine. Whereas Korean participants previously limited to Korean cuisine were more likely to see a difference in food culture as an act of diversification, American participants saw a difference in culinary culture as a limitation from their previously American cuisine. Korean participants, in contrast, showed an evident pattern of initially disliking and being accustomed to Korean dishes. Both KR/F/29 and KR/F/47 support this claim-while none of the American participants named an American dish as something they had disliked, some Korean participants indicated an accommodation to their own country's dish. Such a tendency reflects a contemporary change, or at least an eccentricity, in Korea's traditional dishes. Although a cause-and-effect relationship cannot be assumed, the suggestion of a Westernized palate correlates to the normalization of Westernized dishes in postcolonial Korea, as suggested by Lee (2018) and Lee (2019) and in Analysis 1.1.
Additionally, KR/F/UND2's lack of experience with international travel and interactions with Korean diet culture point to a distinctly Korean cultural experience. Her residency specifically in Korea influenced her attitude towards food consumption-KR/F/UND2's experience is a prime example that illustrates how cultural elements and residency significantly interact with one's perception towards food and eating, as reflected by the findings of Birch and Hind (1980).
Various limitations were relevant in my experiment. During the cookie preparation process, ingredients were purchased from Korean grocery stores and Korean ingredients, while the goal of the experiment was to analyze the taste perception of an American staple. The exclusive use of Korean ingredients may have slightly altered the intended 'American' taste profile of the cookies. Chocolate chip dispersion was also an identifiable limitation. The nature of the chocolate chip cookie relies on the proper distributive ratio of chocolate chips to dough; to preserve the identity of the cookie, the chocolate chips must stay separate from the dough. Although measures were taken to make 8 equally sized pieces of chocolate chips, the baking process likely did not distribute the 8 chips to even areas in the single cookie, meaning that the 'bite' of the cookie per each participant may have had a slightly different amount of chocolate. To prevent such issues, cookies with highly uneven chocolate dispersion were discarded and rebaked.
Limiting factors were also present in the sampling and experimentation process. The available sample pool of American participants was primarily of white European descent-only 1 of the 7 American participants was not ethnically white. Consequently, this sample pool may have been unrepresentative of the characteristic 'American' population, usually characterized by its essence of racial heterogeneity and multiculturalism (Wallach, 2012; Merleaux, 2015.). Another limiting factor was that 2 of the randomly selected American participants happened to be spouses. Though childhood experience may have remained distinct, cohabitation for significant periods of time may have synchronized food habits and therefore skewed the taste perception data. To maintain random selection, however, the spouses were kept in the experiment. Additionally, the small sample size was one of the biggest limitations of my experiment. No more than 7 participants from each group could be collected based on availability-to ensure that the experimental results were as reliable as possible, a decision was made to include just 2 participants in the control group. This unreliability undoubtedly serves as a limitation to my experiment.