You Taste What You See

images-1Can a glass cup sweeten your coffee?

In Nicola Twilley’s New Yorker essay – Accounting for Taste  – packaging can subliminally affect the flavor of food. Not a new idea – the power of the mind over the senses. In the nineteen fifties Vance Packard demonstrated how slick marketing could manipulate in The Hidden Persuaders. In this century, Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink proposes we form perceptions based on our immediate surroundings. Twilley’s summary of Charles Spence’s research demonstrates we taste what we see – the “new frontier”of oral perception.

Longing for something sweet? Some of the findings you might want to consider next time you lift a fork:

  • Strawberry mousse tastes sweeter when served in a white container.
  • Coffee tastes sweeter in a glass mug.
  • Red in packaging is associated with sweetness.
  • Cheesecake tastes sweeter when eaten from a round white plate rather than a square one.

And the sounds surrounding your taste buds may make a difference. Try listening to a soundtrack of crashing waves and screeching gulls while eating your next seafood plate to improve its taste.  Or, better yet, find a restaurant near a beach.