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The Great Christmas Cookie Battle: Using text analysis to rank holiday desserts

Baking cookies has become just as synonymous with the holidays as opening presents and decorating the tree, and every family has their go-to recipe, but what does the internet think?

We compared online reviews for four popular Christmas cookies. Using multiple recipes for each cookie type to ensure variety during text analysis, we uncovered the differences between reviews for each cookie.

To spice things up – pun intended – we put Snickerdoodles, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Gingerbread and Sugar Cookies in head-to-head linguistic battles.

Round one: Snickerdoodle vs. Peanut Butter Blossom

Our analysis found reviewers likely to find Snickerdoodle recipes simple and easy to follow. During the busy holiday season, bakers were grateful for this quick, low effort cookie that was suitable for everyone at home to bake.

Reviewers also described the Snickerdoodle using the word expected. This seems to show that these recipes were fairly traditional and were able to deliver on the classic Snickerdoodle flavor, that home bakers have come to expect.

The Peanut Butter Blossom, is another traditional cookie, and brings with it a lovely sense of nostalgia. Reviewers were likely to say the cookie brought them back’ to their childhood, so this is the cookie that reminds people of better times.

The winner: Peanut Butter Blossoms

In my humble opinion, the nostalgia factor beats almost all other attributes. The holidays are not the time to phone it in with an ‘easy’ cookie recipe, we need a bit of effort here people!

Round two: Gingerbread vs. Sugar Cookie

Arguably THE quintessential Christmas cookie, Gingerbread holds a special place in the hearts of many. Impressed by the recipes, reviewers described the cookie as a keeper, and were more likely to say that they will come back to the recipe the following year.

Reviewers also commonly used the word otherwise. While bakers were generally happy with these Gingerbread Cookie recipes, they often pointed out small changes they would make. Reviewers suggested adding extra spice and flour, otherwise they said the cookies were too bland or too soft.

Sugar Cookies are a holiday hit among reviewers, and many simply described these cookies – as the best. Use of the superlative was often exclusive to the sugar cookie genre (ie. the best sugar cookie recipe).

Often decorated with frosting and sprinkles, Sugar Cookies were talked about as being beautiful among this baking community. Not to ignore the taste, reviewers also appreciated the sweetness and buttery quality of the dessert.

The Winner: Sugar Cookie

As a Gingerbread fan, this is hard to admit – but the Sugar Cookie undoubtedly comes out on top. Reviews loved the appearance and taste of the classic cookie, and you can’t argue with the best!

The Final Round: Peanut Butter Blossom vs. Sugar Cookie

Peanut Butter Blossoms solidified their place as a classic go-to cookie. In this comparison, reviewers were likely to use the word always. Bakers found the cookie always a hit and always a favorite among family, friends and co-workers.

Compared to Gingerbread, we found Sugar Cookies described as the best. But compared to the Peanut Butter Blossom, we saw a complete 180. This time around, reviewers were more likely to describe recipes using the words worst and horrible. These words were often used to critique the specific recipe, but this pattern makes us think maybe these bakers just don’t like sugar cookies.

The Winner: Peanut Butter Blossom

Sugar Cookies had a strong showing in Round two, but it is impossible to ignore its performance in The Final. Peanut Butter Blossoms are a widely-liked, nostalgic cookie choice. Plus, you can’t really go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate.

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