Monday, April 9, 2012

Now here’s something really interesting…

While driving home from the St. Lawrence Market, having done my weekly shopping expedition with my son Karel, I was listening to Day 6 on CBC on the car’s radio. One of the interviews was with an American food consultant named Barb Stuckey (author of Taste What You’re Missing). The discussion centered around how sound can affect the taste of the foods we’re eating, or at least the perception of how that food tastes.

Like me, you’re probably going “huh?”

Well, the premise is that the sound of food seems to have a direct relationship to how it tastes. Citing studies and experiments, Barb told listeners it’s become plausible that if we hear the snap of a really crispy potato chip, for example, then when we eat it, the flavor of the chips will be perceived as better than if we didn’t hear the crispiness of the chip as well. Obviously, this would be the reason behind chip advertisements featuring people crunching away really loudly on the product being advertised. Cut down the volume of the crunch, and the chip isn’t perceived as being quite so tasty.

Another example Ms Stuckey used was an eggs and bacon-flavored ice cream that was tested. (I know that sounds rather disgusting, but someone did make an ice cream combining these flavors.) If the sound of bacon sizzling in a pan was played in the background while a test subject was sampling the ice cream, they perceived the flavor as being more bacon-y. If the sound of hens clucking was played, it was perceived as being more egg-y.

Lastly, she talked about wine and how the perception of the flavor of wines changes by the sort of music that’s played in the background while you’re sampling it. A Cabernet Sauvignon will taste more powerful and in your face if Guns ‘n’ Roses is being played, whereas if you play, say, a Madonna tune (or other pop music), then the same wine will taste softer and more fruity.

I stayed put in the car to listen to the end of the interview because it was so fascinating. I would certainly like to find out more. Marketing decisions are already being made using these techniques with doors on cabinets holding milk actually going “moo” when they’re opened. I guess the feeling is that the good perception of the milk will be enhanced by the sound of cows. So now we can be even more manipulated when we visit the supermarket.

But beyond this, we might be able enhance the flavor of our meals by choosing appropriate background music for the food being served. Restaurants would, of course, want to take advantage of this, but we could also at home. I guess a meal Chez Blechta will have to now consider having a soundtrack, rather than us just throwing on some music we’d like to hear.

If you want to hear the Stuckey interview with Brent Bambury, the host of Day 6, click HERE. The interview starts 8:13 seconds into the show. The player is just below the photo of the F-35 fighter at the top of the page.

I have a very sick computer which is why this posting is late. I hope it will not take long for my Mac to get out of the hospital, but I will try to keep posting on the two or three times a week schedule that I’ve been using. Stay tuned! Or as we say here at AMFAS, stay tuna-ed!

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