One of the things that motivated Nora and me to conduct the Casual Friday nuts study was our intense ambivalence toward the Brazil nut. It’s so much bigger than the other nuts that it tends to dominate any mixture, even when present in small quantities. And, to our palate, it just doesn’t taste good. It seems to be there only to waste space. As Jonah Lehrer put it in his comment on our original survey, “I’ve long believed that nobody actually likes Brazil nuts.”
Indeed, it was the lowest-rated nut of any nut in our survey, as you can see in this graph of the ratings:
With an average rating of 2.21 on a scale of 0 to 5, there’s not much love for the Brazil nut. The rating was significantly lower than the rating for any other nut.
So why do the nut companies even bother with the Brazil nut? Well, it turns out that not everyone hates the Brazil nut. Take a look at this graph breaking down the ratings:
While most readers rated the Brazil nut as a 2 or below, over 10 percent gave it the highest rating, and nearly a quarter of our readers gave it a 4 or 5. So we can’t say that no one likes the Brazil nut — 63 of our 616 survey respondents say they like it very much.
There were even 15 survey respondents who rated the Brazil nut higher than all other nuts. But still, this represents just 2 percent of our respondents. This hardly seems enough to justify including 16 percent Brazil nuts in the store-brand can of mixed nuts, or even 7 percent Brazil nuts in the “Deluxe” can.
Taking a look at the data from the other direction, we can ask another question. Is there anyone who likes Brazil nuts and doesn’t like any other nut? In other words, how many people might not find any nuts at all that they like if Brazil nuts were removed from the mix?
The answer is — according to our data — none. Among respondents rating Brazil nuts a 4 or 5, none rated all the other nuts a 2 or less. In fact, none rated all the others a 3 or less. Just 24 respondents who rated Brazil nuts 4 or 5 rated all the others 4 or less. This small group, under four percent of our total, appears to represent those who would be disappointed by the elimination of Brazil nuts from mixed nuts. And of these, only three say that mixed nuts are their favorite thing to eat at parties.
So while we can’t say that no one likes Brazil nuts, it’s quite clear that Brazil nuts are over-represented, even in “Deluxe” mixtures of nuts.