In an experiment, 60 adults were asked to rate popcorn as to how salty or sweet it was. They were given salty or sweet popcorn served in one of 4 coloured bowls, white, green, red or blue.
The results were surprising. Those eating the salty popcorn reported it tasted sweet when eaten out of a red bowl and the sweet popcorn tasted salty when eaten out of the blue bowl.
It is easier to explain why different coloured food tastes different than explaining how the food tastes different when eaten from a coloured bowl. Your brain predicts how something is going to taste just by looking at it, so by looking at a red food your brain thinks it is going to taste sweet like a strawberry for example.
Other studies have picked up on how coloured plates or bowls can influence our taste. For example the flavour of hot chocolate was described as more intense when served in an orange cup than in a white cup and a strawberry mousse tasted better on a white plate rather than a black plate.
It seems that our vision is a strong sense and it influences our perception of flavours. This could be because food colour could tell us that food has gone off or is dangerous and it is our brain’s way of protecting us.
It is possible to use this information to encourage healthy eating as children are more attracted to bright colours so although you can’t change green spinach into bright red, you can serve it on a red plate so it may look less bitter and more appealing and serve a green smoothie with a pink or red straw. Worth a try for anyone despairing with a fussy eater!
As we get older we start to lose our sense of taste and smell so it may take three times the amount of salt in a bowl of tomato soup for an older person to taste it compared to someone younger. Serving it in a blue bowl may help.
Interesting report and shows how our brain predicts what we are going to eat just by looking at it before smelling or tasting it. Worth serving a food someone doesn’t like in a coloured bowl to see if it makes a difference?
Love to hear any interesting findings.