In what some call “the final frontier in food presentation,” several recent experiments show tastes are amplified or diminished based on sound, prompting restaurants to focus on music selection.
Over the decades, many restaurants have carefully crafted dining experiences using everything from appetizing menus and aromas to supporting décor and lighting. In what some call “the final frontier in food presentation,” several recent experiments show tastes are amplified or diminished based on sound, prompting restaurants to focus on music selection.
In “sonic seasoning,” high-pitched sounds enhance sweet flavors, and low-pitched enhance bitter ones. Use the Condiment Junkie app to see for yourself.
The Crossmodal Laboratory at the University of Oxford had people eat cinder toffee while playing high and low pitch sounds. The House of Wolf restaurant served a “sonic cake pop” featuring bittersweet toffee, chocolate, and a phone number for sound selection. London’s Royal Institute provided live music for diners. In all experiments, participants marveled at how sounds consistently changed their perception of taste.
Food artist Caroline Hobkinson said sound had a strong effect on coffee and expects to see it as a future sugar substitute.
Oxford’s Charles Spence studied how loud airplane noise squashed people’s salty and sweet tastes, leading to cravings for savory umami that withstands those sounds. If he’s right, future airline foods may contain more savory ingredients like cured meats, parmesan, and tomatoes.
Plus, your future pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream may come with QR codes so you can play flavor-enhancing sounds on your phone while you eat.