Why I switched from M&Ms to Skittles when teaching Six Sigma

During our basic Six Sigma classes, I often use M&Ms® to teach statistical concepts.

I have found that using candy is a fun way to make statistics less “scary” for those who don’t have a math background.

M&Ms_color_pareto_exerciseWe start out the class by opening up the bags, and counting out the number of pieces in each bag. Each student separates the pieces into colors, and creates a Pareto chart of their bag (see image at left).

Next, we collect the total number of pieces by bag from each student, and calculate a mean (average), median and estimate variation using the standard deviation for the number of pieces per bag. Yes, we calculate it all by hand, not using Excel or Minitab.

The next exercise is creating a histogram of the pieces, to look at the distribution of the class data (it comes out looking like a normal distribution, no surprise there).

We calculate capability indices (Pp and Ppk) from the data, using specification limits that might represent wasted money for the company, or customer dissatisfaction from insufficient pieces in a bag.

Finally, we calculate control limits for an Individuals chart, and plot the results to look for “out of control” conditions (based on Nelson Rules, an updated version of the Western Electric Rules).

If you are interesting in attending one of these classes (as a student, or to observe how to teach a Six Sigma class with candy), check out our upcoming Yellow Belt training >>>

However, I recently switched my diet from vegetarian to vegan, and I no longer eat M&Ms because they contain milk chocolate. If you don’t know, vegan means you do not eat or consume or purchase any food or products that come from animals, such as milk, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, honey, gelatin, or leather products. I chose this lifestyle because I don’t want to be responsible for harming animals, and meat and dairy consumption has a huge negative impact on the environment and climate change. If you’d like to learn more about going vegan, check out my mentor, Emily Moran Barwick of Bite Size Vegan >>>

I continued to use M&Ms during the last few classes, but I didn’t eat them after counting up my pieces. I researched some vegan M&Ms, but they were very expensive, and there was a long lead time to order them.

Before my last class, I decided to check one more time for an alternative candy (not just an M&Ms replacement). I figured out that Skittles® were vegan! They are gluten-free and gelatin-free, and do not contain any non-vegan ingredients. I tested this out with my first class last week, and it worked just the same as the M&Ms. And the best part is that I don’t have the guilt of buying non-vegan candies anymore (and I can get a little sugar rush during my class).