March 8, 2010 — As a follow-up to the Academy Awards presentation, we are conducting a test of the revamped “preferential voting system” for selecting the Best Picture. (No, this is not prompted by a case of sour grapes about the results of Sunday’s vote; We just want to see firsthand, step-by-step, how this new voting system works.)


According to the Los Angeles Times, voters in the Best Picture category are asked to rank their choices from 1 to 10 — although they are not required to complete the ballot in full. The ballots then are separated into stacks according to the voters’ first choices. If one film collects more than 50 percent of first-choice votes in the initial round, it is declared the winner. If that doesn’t happen, however …

The film that gets the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated from contention, with those voters’ second-choices being redistributed to all the remaining stacks. This process repeats until one of the stacks accumulates a majority of votes. As Steven Zeitchik of the Times suggests, “it actually could be preferable for a film to garner a lot of second- and third-place votes than to be a polarizing choice” that splits evenly between first-place votes and lower ballot rankings.


Leave a comment by 11 p.m. (EST) on Tues., March 9, to vote for the Best Ice Cream Topping, based on the alphabetical list of randomly-nominated toppings, below. Simply rank the toppings, from 1 to 10, with 1 being your favorite. (As with the Oscar vote, you are not required to complete your rankings in full.)

A. Butterfinger pieces
B. Caramel sauce
C. Gummi Worms
D. Hot fudge
E. M & Ms
F. Oreo cookie pieces
G. Peanuts
H. Reese’s Pieces
I. Sprinkles/jimmies
J. Strawberries


March 11, 2010 — Although the sample size of our poll turned out to be too small to allow a credible test of the Best Picture voting system, we did learn a few things:

Out of 15 ballots cast, “Hot fudge” emerged as the clear favorite from our randomly-nominated list of ice cream toppings, garnering six first-place votes. “Oreo cookie pieces” and “Reese’s Pieces” each received two first-place votes.
The first-round tally:

6 — Hot fudge
2 — Oreo cookie pieces
2 — Reese’s Pieces
1 — Butterfinger pieces
1 — Caramel sauce
1 — M & Ms
1 — Sprinkles/jimmies
1 — Strawberries
0 — Gummi Worms
0 — Peanuts

In order to be declared the automatic winner in the first round of voting, “Hot fudge” would have needed to receive a clear majority of first-place votes — in this case, 8 of the 15 votes cast. At least two additional rounds would be required, for “Hot fudge” to have a chance of reaching that mark through the redistribution of votes. (No voters gave “Gummi Worms” or “Peanuts” a first-place ranking, which removed them from inclusion in subsequent rounds.)

Since five toppings received just a single first-place vote, the process for the redistribution of votes was not clear-cut. Although a tie would have been possible
even if working with a much larger data pool, the chances are staggeringly remote that a five-way tie could emerge from the tallying of nearly 6,000 Oscar ballots.

“Hot fudge” was listed in the runner-up spot on two of the five ballots that were eligible for redistribution. The other three runner-up votes were split among “M & Ms,” “Oreo cookie pieces” and “Reese’s Pieces.” Statistically, it was impossible for any other topping to reach the decisive 8-vote mark ahead of “Hot fudge.”

Accordingly, the award for the Best Ice Cream Topping goes to “Hot Fudge”!

(With whipped cream and a cherry? That’s a topic for a whole other vote …)



  1. gilesmarie says:

    A – 5
    B – 1
    C – 3
    D – 2
    E – 4
    F – 6
    G – 7
    H – 8
    I – 10
    J – 9

  2. Lucy says:

    1. D
    2. B
    3. J
    4. A
    5. F
    6. G
    7. H
    8. I
    9. E
    10. C

  3. amberolix says:

    1. Reese’s Pieces
    2. Hot Fudge
    3. Butterfinger Pieces
    4. Oreo Cookie Pieces
    5. M & Ms
    6. Caramel Sauce
    7. Sprinkles
    8. Strawberries
    9. Gummi Worms
    10. Peanuts

  4. lisacle says:

    Hot fudge
    Caramel sauce
    Reese’s Pieces
    M & Ms
    Oreo cookie pieces
    Butterfinger pieces
    Gummi worms

  5. Mary Cait says:

    1. F
    2. E
    3. H
    4. J
    5. D
    6. A
    7. B
    8. G
    9. C
    10. I

  6. Jessica Worland says:

    1- I
    2- F
    3- D
    4- E
    5- A
    6- J
    7- G
    8- B
    9- H
    10- C

  7. Vicky Cox says:

    1. D. hot fudge
    2. G peanuts (preferably with the aforementioned hot fudge)
    3. J. strawberries
    4. B. caramel sauce
    5. I. sprinkles
    6. A. Butterfinger pieces
    7. F. Oreo Cookie pieces
    8. H. Reese’s Pieces
    9. M & M’s

    Gummi worms do not belong on or in ice cream unless one is making a slightly gross Halloween party favor.

  8. Erica Smith says:

    1. J
    2. D
    3. I
    4. F
    5. E
    6. H
    7. A
    8. G
    9. B
    10. A

  9. Meredith says:

    3 A. Butterfinger pieces
    6 B. Caramel sauce
    9 C. Gummi Worms
    7 D. Hot fudge
    8 E. M & Ms
    2 F. Oreo cookie pieces
    10 G. Peanuts
    1 H. Reese’s Pieces
    4 I. Sprinkles/jimmies
    5 J. Strawberries

  10. CROCODILE!! says:

    A 3, B 6, C 10, D 1, E 4, F 7, G 2, H 5, I 9, J 8

  11. Irma says:

    3. Butterfinger pieces
    7. Caramel sauce
    5. Gummi Worms
    8. Hot fudge
    4. M & Ms
    1. Oreo cookie pieces
    2. Reese’s Pieces
    6. Sprinkles/jimmies
    9. Strawberries

  12. nkling6 says:

    1. Hot fudge
    2. M & Ms
    3. Oreo cookie pieces
    4. Peanuts
    5. Caramel sauce
    6. Butterfinger pieces

  13. Gundam says:


  14. Your wife says:

    1) Butterfinger Pieces
    2) m&m’s
    3) strawberries
    4) Reese’s Pieces
    5) Caramel
    6) Hot Fudge
    7) Oreo Cookie pieces
    8) Sprinkles
    9) Peanuts
    10)Gummy Worms

  15. Shirley says:

    1. – D. Hot fudge
    2. – B. Caramel sauce
    3. – E. M & Ms
    4. – J. Strawberries
    5. – H. Reese’s Pieces
    6. – F. Oreo cookie pieces
    7. – G. Peanuts
    8. – A. Butterfinger pieces
    9. – I. Sprinkles/jimmies
    10. – C. Gummi Worms

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