The sound is what sensory science nuts call modulating taste, and the past few years have seen a boom in research in this area. The sound is the final frontier in food presentation.
Restaurants agonise over menus, crockery, furniture and lighting, yet often any old CD will be stuck on for background music with nary a thought. However, now that we're starting to understand that everyone has synaesthetic tendencies when it comes to taste, sound is set to play a bigger part in our eating experience.
Ben & Jerry's, for example, is considering a sonic range of ice-cream flavours, with QR codes on the tubs that will allow eaters to access complementary sounds via their phones. Back in 1997, Heston Blumenthal introduced his iPod-enhanced seafood dish, Sounds of the Sea, but that was a more literal, more Pavlovian association: eat fish, listen to the sea, fish tastes fresher and better. But a number of recent experiments have now shown how abstract sounds can turn tastes up or down by remote control, as it were.
On the Foodtech Village at GastroNord, we met Diaz & Swahn, or simply D&S, is a science and trend-driven food company specialized in combining sensory science and marketing with business.
“New products are all about research and consumer tasting.” - says Asgeir Nilsen, Head of Sensory Research of D&S knows all about it. “Previously all the focus was on the product. Today our research is based on what influences you when you are eating, for example, music. High-frequency sounds enhance the sweetness in food, while low frequencies bring out the bitterness. The same goes with fonts on packaging - the more round the font, the sweeter the taste you will be experiencing and with the background on the food photos. When do you have an excessive mouth watering?”
So could sound replace sugar? And what kind of music should restaurants play? A lot to take in and think about!
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