Why we like food that makes noise

Sunday Express - - XPRESS PEOPLE - New York

WHAT your food “sounds” like af­fects how good it tastes, a new study says The crunch of a chip, the snap of a car­rot, or the fizz of a freshly opened bev­er­age may greatly in­flu­ence just how good we think those foods taste, ac­cord­ing to new flavour re­search.

Flavour per­cep­tion is multi-sen­sory. “The flavour of food is re­duced to a mere whis­per when its scent is lost,” chef Molly Birn­baum once said.

“In a new re­port pub­lished in the jour­nal Flavour, re­searcher Charles Spence, a pro­fes­sor of ex­per­i­men­tal psy­chol­ogy at Ox­ford Uni­ver­sity re­views a wide va­ri­ety of re­search re­lated to sound and flavour per­cep­tion, and comes to the con­clu­sion that what a food sounds like is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant to the ex­pe­ri­ence of eat­ing it.

That sound, he says, is the “forgotten flavour sense.”

“Our brains are all the time try­ing to pick up cor­re­la­tions in the en­vi­ron­ment,” says Spence. Ac­cord­ing to his re­search, peo­ple use sounds to as­sess how tasty food is, even if they don’t re­al­ize it.

In one of the stud­ies he high­lights, con­sumers used the word “crisp” more than any other de­scrip­tor when they were asked to eval­u­ate 79 foods.

An­other study com­pleted in 2007 by Uni­ver­sity of Leeds re­searchers to de­ter­mine just how im­por­tant ba­con crispi­ness is to a BLT, the lead re­searcher con­cluded:

“We of­ten think it’s the taste and smell of ba­con that con­sumers find most at­trac­tive. “But our re­search proves that tex­ture and the crunch­ing sound is just if not more — im­por­tant.” Science has also shown that

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n chang­ing the sounds a food makes can in­flu­ence a per­son’s per­cep­tion of it.

In his own prior re­search, Spence showed that peo­ple give car­bon­ated bev­er­ages higher rat­ings when the sound of the bub­bles pop­ping be­comes louder and more fre­quent.

But why is the way food sounds im­por­tant to us? For one, Spence says it could be that sound is an in­di­ca­tor for tex­ture and there­fore qual­ity.

Tex­ture can re­veal how fresh food is. If an ap­ple cracks crisply when it’s bit­ten into, in­stead of yield­ing with­out a snap, you know that’s a good sign.

Even soft foods, like bread, ba­nanas or mousse can make sub­tle sounds when they’re bit­ten, sliced or plunged into with a spoon, and Spence says he be­lieves the com­mer­cial­iza­tion of sounds in the food in­dus­try may soon be grow­ing in a big way.

“It’s go­ing to start out with modernist chefs,” Spence pre­dicts. Food mod­i­fi­ca­tions could also be used to help make food more plea­sur­able for the el­derly whose over­all senses may be de­creas­ing, he adds.

— Time

The crunch of a chip may greatly in­flu­ence just how good we think those foods taste.

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