How we taste with our eyes

Some people might scoff at the concept of “presentation” when it comes to food. But the fact is, looks matter. Even the color of the plate or cup can change how our brain registers the taste of the food. And a new study from researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and Oxford University further proves this phenomenon.

Scientists gave 57 participants hot chocolate in four different colored mugs: white, cream, red and orange with a white interior. The hot chocolate was exactly the same in all four mugs, but all of the subjects reported that the chocolate in the orange and cream mugs was tastier.

This effect isn’t rare for both food and container – coffee in brown mugs is said to be richer and more aromatic, spicy food that is actually red is perceived to be hotter, etc. – bit it isn’t well understood. That’s because there are no hard and fast rules about how this interaction works between brain and taste buds. There are a million variations between the plate/cup/container and the kind of food itself.

Betina Piqueras-Fiszman is one of the authors of the study:

The color of the recipient where you serve food and drinks can enhance some of its attributes, like flavor and aroma. There’s no fix rule to tell which color enhances what food. This varies depending on the type of food but the truth is that the effect is there. Companies should pay more attention to the recipient because it has a a lot more potential than what you imagine.

Now if only we could find what color will get kids to eat their vegetables.

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