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Idle Science

Background Noise Affects Taste of Foods 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the that-sounds-delicious dept.
gollum123 writes "The level of background noise affects both the intensity of flavour and the perceived crunchiness of foods, researchers have found. Blindfolded diners assessed the sweetness, saltiness, and crunchiness, as well as overall flavour, of foods as they were played white noise. While louder noise reduced the reported sweetness or saltiness, it increased the measure of crunch. It may go some way to explaining why airline food is notoriously bland — a phenomenon that drives airline catering companies to season their foods heavily. In a comparatively small study, 48 participants were fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones. Also in the group's findings there is the suggestion that the overall satisfaction with the food aligned with the degree to which diners liked what they were hearing — a finding the researchers are pursuing in further experiments."
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Background Noise Affects Taste of Foods

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  • Beer? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uzd4ce (1916592) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:17PM (#33912278)
    I wonder if there are similar effects to adult beverage enjoyment. I always enjoy my homebrew as well as local and national Craft beers, but this article makes me wonder if there are certain flavor profiles or characteristics I prefer based on my environment or the noise level related to it. When I think about it, I tend to prefer darker, deeper, more complex beers, maybe with a stronger emphasis on the malt character in a quieter setting, but then prefer a crisper, hoppier bite from, say, a classic pilsner or pale ale or IPA even in louder, more enthusiastic environments. Definitely something I'll be paying attention to in the future....
  • by Firethorn (177587) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:18PM (#33912294) Homepage Journal

    I'd argue for just having a couple bland items on the table for the wussies/people with stomach conditions, give us GOOD tasting food.

    On the other hand, this makes me wonder if crowded noisy lunch halls encourage bad eating choices - going for even sweeter/saltier food items due to this effect?

  • Re:Synesthesia (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:28PM (#33912420)

    Being a synesthetic, I see color with taste and sound, and some sound makes my mouth taste zinc(y), I was already aware of this.

  • No control group? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:28PM (#33912422) Journal
    Did they also do the experiment with people who weren't wearing blindfolds???
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday October 15, 2010 @03:57PM (#33912780) Journal
    You ever stash some airline food and eat it in a different setting? It tastes very different. Not good per se, but definitely not bland.

    Did this with some breakfast sandwich that my wife didn't like... I ate mine (room-temperature, as they served it before I was really awake on a 10-hour international red-eye), and saved hers for after we landed 2 hours later.

    I even remarked to her that hers tasted different than mine... this could be a possible explanation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @04:17PM (#33913050)

    The fancy airlines that have chefs prepare the meals before takeoff put more spice in the foods. The theory is that the altitude affects the taste in some ways.

    That is correct http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9408563. The cabin of an airliner traveling at 39,000ft is pressurized to the equivalent of 6,900ft. Ask any chef in Denver (~5,000ft) and they'll tell you they have to change the ratios of everything when they cook there. It doesn't dull the taste of everything and some flavors it makes your tongue more sensitive to.

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