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Owner: priyankan
Created: Feb 7, 2018
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Nanayakkara, Priyanka: Is the In-N-Out Hype Justified?
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Imagine a burger. The juicy patty. The thick slices of tomato, and crunchy lettuce. Maybe there's melted cheese oozing out the sides.

Are craving one? Does just thinking about it bring you happiness? Is it really, really good?

You might be imagining a burger from In-N-Out. 

Using the StatCrunch Twitter Application, we can see the words with the most occurrences on Twitter when "innout" is used as a keyword. When people talk about In-N-Out, they use the words you see below. A quick glance will tell you these are mostly positive words; in other words, people like In-N-Out. (While there are negative words like "bad" and "trash," the overwhelming majority of words carry positive connotations.)

Result 1: Word Wall: "innout"   [Info]
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In-N-Out is a California classic. It's not uncommon for Californians to head to an In-N-Out after landing at LAX, tempted by the promise of a quality burger at a reasonable price. The company itself prides itself on the notion of quality; the website touts "quality you can taste" as a tagline, and notes that "quality is the most important ingredient at In-N-Out Burger."

But are their burgers really "quality," so to speak?

Along with a simple menu, California is part of In-N-Out's image. California is known as a health-conscious state, in part characterized by residents who take pride in their farmers markets and Sunday morning hikes. Perhaps the close association between In-N-Out and California has led us to believe that In-N-Out presents a somewhat healthier burger option. Eating at In-N-Out does not elicit the same guilt or shame as eating at McDonald's, for example. McDonald's negative image regarding its menu items' healthiness is widely portrayed in media; one example is the documentary Super Size Me, which illustrated the deleterious effects of one man's month-long-McDonald's-only diet on his mental and physical health.

For the most part, In-N-Out has avoided such media scrutiny, and maybe for good reason. Maybe its burgers truly are a cut above the rest. Perhaps a month-long In-N-Out diet would not change one's health. 

By comparing nutrition data across various restaurant chains, we can have a better understanding of whether In-N-Out is truly different, or if it carries the same health risks as other fast food burger chains. We will subset the Nutritional Data for Fast Food 2017 to only include observations with food type as burger. We do not want to analyze the difference in overall health of foods across fast food restaurants because various restaurants sell different items. However, their common feature is the burger.

To measure how healthy a burger is, we will look at the proportion of the serving size (in grams) that comes from bad fats--trans and saturated. We do not want to look simply at the amount of fat (in grams), because sandwiches that are larger will be unnecessarily penalized. Instead, we want to standardize the score by looking at proportions. A lower proportion indicates a healthier burger.

We can compare across mean proportions of unhealthy fats of burgers from the various fast food chains. Interestingly, In-N-Out has the lowest average mean proportion of unhealthy fats, at 0.039. The restaurant with the highest mean proportion is White Castle, at 0.085. McDonald's is somewhere in between, at 0.056. The visualization below of side-by-side boxplots of unhealthy fats proportions across restaurants better illustrate how In-N-Out, Whataburger, and White Castle appear to have median proportions away from the rest.   

Result 2: Unhealthy Fats Proportions Across Restaurants   [Info]
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However, what if these differences are due to chance? What if they are not statistically significant? 

To find out, we will conduct a one-way ANOVA. Formally, we are testing the null hypothesis that all the mean proportions across restaurants are equal to one another. We will test this null at α=.05.

Ho: μ1= μ2 =...=μ(where k = number of restuarants)

Ha: At least one pair of means is different

The ANOVA output below shows a p-value of .006.


Result 3: ANOVA-- Comparing Unhealthy Fat Proportions Across Restaurants   [Info]
Analysis of Variance results:
Responses: Unhealthy Fats Proportion
Factors: Fast Food Restaurant

Response statistics by factor
Fast Food RestaurantnMeanStd. Dev.Std. Error
Burger King60.0594169250.0190704740.0077854883
Carl's Jr.80.0568286440.0149875260.0052988908
Dairy Queen60.0642942290.00874280350.0035692346
In-N-Out Burger30.0391103310.0184999090.010680927
Jack in the Box80.0646658060.0177414340.006272544
White Castle50.084741870.0169055460.0075603899

ANOVA table
Fast Food Restaurant90.00711680510.000790756122.97923930.0062

Tukey HSD results (95% level)
Burger King subtracted from
Carl's Jr.-0.0025882804-0.0316633920.0264868311
Dairy Queen0.0048773044-0.0262052970.0359599060.9999
In-N-Out Burger-0.020306594-0.0583748510.0177616630.7545
Jack in the Box0.0052488814-0.023826230.0343239930.9998
White Castle0.025324945-0.00727476270.0579246530.2592
Carl's Jr. subtracted from
Dairy Queen0.0074655848-0.0216095270.0365406960.9973
In-N-Out Burger-0.017718313-0.0541658940.0187292680.839
Jack in the Box0.0078371618-0.0190811610.0347554840.9932

To ensure the validity of our model, we will analyze the residuals. From the Group Means vs. Residuals plot, we see that the errors are randomly scattered.


Result 4: Group Means vs. Residuals   [Info]
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The Normal Q-Q Plot of residuals shows that the errors are roughly normal distributed, evidenced by the points on or near the line. 


Result 5: QQ Plot of Residuals   [Info]
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All this is to say, In-N-Out is worth the hype, in that it's healthier, if you are choosing between In-N-Out and White Castle. But statistically speaking, it's not much different from going to McDonald's or Burger King for your burger craving.

But, hype is not only about health. Sometimes a restaurant is popular, or talked about, even if it is unhealthy. We can look at data from Google Trends to see how popular searches of In-N-Out, Whataburger, and White Castle are.


Result 6: Google Searches of White Castle, In-N-Out, and Whataburger   [Info]
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The x-axis represents time, with the initial index value starting five years ago. The visualization shows that overall, In-N-Out is the most popular among searches of In-N-Out, Whataburger, and White Castle. White Castle, the unhealthiest according to our analysis, is the least popular.

Perhaps it is worthwhile for restaurants to focus on creating healthier burgers. It seems to be working for In-N-Out. 

So maybe Californians can in fact rest assured that In-N-Out is worth the hype.

Data set 1. Burger Subset of Nutritional Data for Fast Food 20   [Info]
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Data set 2. Google Trends of Restaurant Searches   [Info]
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