Scientifically: Who makes the best cheesesteak?

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Jimmy Fallon outside of Dalessandro's Steaks in Roxborough on October 25, 2013. Fallon's visit was an unannounced drop-in. (Photo via Jimmy Fallon's Instagram)

"Who makes the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia?" is a question often asked but one that can never be answered to everyone's satisfaction.

But that doesn't stop people from trying.

Here comes L.A. data startup DataScience, which happens to be heading to Philadelphia next week to attend the Shop.org Summit, a major retail/e-commerce conference. 

Dave Goodsmith, a data scientist with DataScience, says he and his team wanted to leverage their expertise in data analytics to see if data could be used to determine who really makes the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia.

"It’s a longstanding battle where winners have been determined by personal preference and opinion rather than taking a look at what the data is really saying, so we thought it could be a fun application of our knowledge," said Goodsmith.

"In self disclosure, we also happen to be big cheesesteak fans, but they just don’t do it the same in California.”

DataScience used natural-language processing - a blend of artificial intelligence and computational linguistics - to analyze 12,000 online customer reviews from a variety of online sources. They examined the reports on more than 80 cheesesteak shops from 2005 to 2015.

The researchers then created a machine-learning algorithm to determine good reviews from bad.

Words that were associated positively with cheesesteak shops include soft (referring to the roll), perfectly, perfection, love, and heaven.

Words that detracted from cheesesteak favorability include worse, tourist, terrible, tasteless, and okay.

The researchers say that Dalessandro’s was the clear winner among cheesesteak shops

The other top-scoring cheesesteak shops, following Dalessandro's, were:

2. John’s Roast Pork in South Philadelphia
3. Sonny’s Famous Steaks in Old City
4. Tony Luke’s in South Philadelphia
5. Jim’s Steaks on South Street
6. Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philadelphia
7. Ishkabibble’s on South Street
8. Steve’s Prince of Steaks in Northeast Philadelphia
9. Geno’s Steaks of South Philadelphia

Since cheese is so important, the researchers checked to see which variety was most associated with positive reviews.

That finding is probably a surprise: Swiss was viewed more positively than (2) mozzarella, (3) provolone, (4) American and (5) Cheez Whiz.

Oh, and they found that the addition of cherry peppers went a long way to making a dream cheesesteak.

The methodology follows below in an infographic.  

 

Click on image to see DataScience's methodology.

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