Synergistic and antagonistic ingredient interactions as a sugar reduction strategy in chocolate milk

Here we report synergistic and antagonistic mixture interactions between sucrose, vanillin, and cocoa powder as a potential added sugar reduction strategy in chocolate milk. Objectives of this project were to (i) model consumer perception of relevant sensory attributes as a function of sucrose, vanillin, and cocoa powder in chocolate milk, (ii) test for the presence of synergistic, additive, and antagonistic interactions via the isobole method, and (iii) determine consumer acceptance of these samples with both adults and children. In Study 1, adult chocolate milk consumers (n = 136) rated perceived intensities of sweetness, bitterness, chocolate flavor, and color for 22 chocolate milk formulations created according to an experimental design to systematically cover the multidimensional design space. Dose–response contour plots and regression modeling highlighted the large contributions of sucrose-vanillin and sucrose-cocoa interactions to ratings of sweetness, bitterness, and chocolate flavor. Indeed, three of the five tested mixture samples showed sweetness synergy and bitterness antagonism. In Study 2, overall acceptability of these five samples was evaluated by adults (n = 142) and children (n = 61) consumers of chocolate milk. Among the three chocolate milks that showed sweetness enhancement and bitterness suppression, one with moderate levels of sucrose (4.67% [w/w]) also received liking scores above neutral (>5 on a 9-point hedonic scale), suggesting this formulation provides the greatest potential to decrease added sugar content while preserving consumer acceptability. Practical Applications: Sucrose, vanillin, and cocoa powder act synergistically and antagonistically on perceived sweetness and bitterness in chocolate milk. Ingredient combinations could be optimized for lowering added sugar content while maintaining acceptability by adult and children consumers of chocolate milk.

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [Synergistic and antagonistic ingredient interactions as a sugar reduction strategy in chocolate milk. Journal of Sensory Studies 37, 5 (2022)], which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions:



Work Title Synergistic and antagonistic ingredient interactions as a sugar reduction strategy in chocolate milk
Open Access
  1. Helene Hopfer
  2. Alden C Riak
  3. Robert F. Roberts
  4. John E. Hayes
  5. Gregory R. Ziegler
  1. Chocolate milk
  2. Added sugar reduction
  3. Mixture effects
  4. Isobole interaction analysis
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Journal of Sensory Studies
Publication Date July 1, 2021
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited February 17, 2023




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Hopfer_2022accepted_forScholarsphere.pdf
  • Added Creator Alden C Riak
  • Added Creator Helene Hopfer
  • Added Creator Alden C Riak
  • Added Creator Robert F. Roberts
  • Added Creator John E. Hayes
  • Added Creator G R Ziegler
  • Added Creator J E Hayes
  • Added Creator Gregory R Ziegler
  • Published
  • Deleted Creator Alden C Riak
  • Deleted Creator J E Hayes
  • Deleted Creator Gregory R Ziegler
  • Updated Creator Alden C Riak
  • Updated Creator Helene Hopfer
  • Updated Creator Robert F. Roberts
  • Updated Creator John E. Hayes
  • Renamed Creator Gregory R. Ziegler Show Changes
    • G R Ziegler
    • Gregory R. Ziegler
  • Updated Keyword Show Changes
    • Chocolate milk, Added sugar reduction, Mixture effects, Isobole interaction analysis
  • Updated