Numerous organizational meetings have taken place during the formation of OAITI. Often times, the length of these meetings would dictate that we have some snacks to go along with them. These would often be some type of food bar, such as a LARABAR:

Many times, we’d informally rate these “The taste is great, but I’m not a big fan of the texture!”, “It has an interesting aftertaste”, “The branding is a little boring”. As more meetings took place, we realized that it might be worth our time to formally collect ratings data on each bar that we try as a group. As the months went on, we collected enough data to do some rudimentary analysis of our preferences. The data in its complete raw form is given below:

Food BarTasterTextureNaturalTasteBarAppearanceBrandingAfterTaste-Potency[-10+10]Smell[-10+10]OverallCommentsDate
Larabar - Ginger BreadLawrence6.586.75742760
Larabar - Ginger BreadEric796742760
Larabar - Ginger BreadNadia886742760
Health WarriorEric486391642765
Health WarriorLawrence5.594.53.56.57542765
Health WarriorNadia798679842765
Health WarriorPete38537-34weird42765
Power CrunchLawrence9.527.565.5-0.56.542800
Power CrunchEric9384617goes well with cactus water42800
Power CrunchNadia92.5944-5542800
Muscle MilkEric72478-3442807
Muscle MilkLawrence35.53.578.513.542807
Muscle MilkNadia733674342807
Nutrition-Zone PerfectNadia98978359 crunchy42810
Nutrition-Zone PerfectEric87979589possibly favourite42810
Nutrition-Zone PerfectLawrence1.5586929.57.542810
Cliff BarNadia6.57747-176.5natural but protein powder taste42817
Cliff BarEric4372.5508642817
Cliff BarLawrence6.54.56.545-0.57742817
Combat Birthday CakeEric32243.5-5-62Protien taste!42824
Combat Birthday CakeNadia20375-3-41Odd brand42824
Combat Birthday CakeLawrence3.532.56.53-3-2242824
SMART- CookieDoughNadia53476-13442828
SMART- CookieDoughEric78.587.59.526842828
SMART- CookieDoughLawrence6.
SMART -BlueberryNadia556762-1642831
SMART -BlueberryEric686.5790-4642831
SMART -BlueberryLawrence6.577.
BounceLawrence53.555955.58.5an experience42835
Health WarriorNadia777561-2742838
Health WarriorLawrence796.536.51-67.542838
Health WarriorEric686370-46.542838
Sahale Snacks - OrangeNadia67.57.57851742845
Sahale Snacks - OrangeLawrence6.57.547.56.51-1.5542845
Sahale Snacks - OrangeEric59867407.542845
Sahale Snacks - Banana PecanNadia767.56.57-13742849
Sahale Snacks - Banana PecanLawrence77.56.58721742849
Sahale Snacks - Banana PecanEric7.598.56.58.5628.542849
Good GreensNadia768671-47.542852
Good GreensLawrence56.5457.50.5-1542852
Good GreensEric584.529-3-6442852
Vans- PBJNadia778.578628.542870
Vans- PBJLawrence8.56.597.58-13.58.542870
Vans- PBJHieu4557830742870
Vans- PBJEric7787.5925842871
Larabar - Key Lime PieEric886.5442-3742871
Larabar - Key Lime PieNadia777640.527.542871
Larabar - Key Lime PieLawrence77.575.53.500.5742871
OhYeah - OneEric53.
OhYeah - OneNadia33678-275.542873
OhYeah - OneLawrence52293.5-22.5442873
GoMacro - Protein PurityNadia77548-1-3442874
GoMacro - Protein PurityLawrence6.58549-4-13.542874
GoMacro - Protein PurityHieu48508-10-5342874
GoMacro - Protein PurityEric6953.59-1-15.542874
GoMacro - Protein PleasureNadia8878812742874
GoMacro - Protein PleasureLawrence55.53.57.59-2-0.54.542874
GoMacro - Protein PleasureHieu676084-5742874
GoMacro - Protein PleasureEric7864.59317.542874
GoMacro - Balanced GoodnessNadia6789865842874
GoMacro - Balanced GoodnessLawrence7.58.597.58.5-13942874
GoMacro - Balanced GoodnessHieu799589-58.542874
GoMacro - Balanced GoodnessEric5.596.55.5932742874
Health Warrior-CoconutLawrence7.583.55.57.5-0.5-34.542891
Health Warrior-CoconutEric88.58.567238.542891
Health Warrior-CoconutNadia88767117.542891
Sunny Days- StrawberryHieu47745510842905
Sunny Days- StrawberryEric54.565.54085.542905
Sunny Days- StrawberryNadia43678-28742905
Sunny Days- StrawberryLawrence887.532.50.54742905
Kashi-Almond SnickerdoodleHieu1069836842909
Kashi-Almond SnickerdoodleEric8.5998.5558.542909
Kashi-Almond SnickerdoodleNadia68778-23742909
Kashi-Almond SnickerdoodleLawrence57.577.55.518.5742909
Whenever Bars - Oat Blueberry LemonEric6894.59238.542912
Whenever Bars - Oat Blueberry LemonNadia46868-42842912
Whenever Bars - Oat Blueberry LemonLawrence2.57.55.527.513.56.542912

You’ll immediately note some issues with the data:

  1. We added some additional attributes (BarAppearance, Branding, AfterTaste, Smell) after we began collecting data, so these fields are missing for the first bar (or in the case of Smell, the first several bars)
  2. Not every member of the team has rated every bar, so there is missing data. (In addition, we had some guest tasters who have only rated one or two bars total)
  3. The date field is transformed into an integer – This needs to be converted to be an actual date (as a matter of fact, this integer is the number of days since December 31st, 1899)

Using this data, and the R package recommenderlab, we created a Shiny application which attempts to fill in the missing ratings for particular users, by using their ratings to form recommendations for the bars they didn’t rate. Similar (but far more advanced) recommender systems are used by Netflix, Amazon, and many other online services and retailers in order to recommend products to users. We felt this was a neat prototype of a recommender system partly because of its simplicity, and partly because of the self-collected nature of the data. A screenshot of the application is available below:

The app is available at the following URL: – Feel free to explore the data yourself. A modern web browser, such as the latest version of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge is required. The full source code application and data processing, is available on our GitHub Page.