Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Taste and Presentation

As part of the Taste group, I wanted to focus on how our tastes change based on the presentation of the food being offered to us. In this video, a psychologist, Brian Wansink, runs an experiment to see whether people taste the same foods in different ways based on their perception of how it should taste. In his first test, he had random diner patrons sample some jello that was colored to look like a berry/cherry flavor when it was really lemon-flavored. All of the participants thought the jello was berry/cherry after tasting it. He then had people sample some green milk to see what their reactions were. No one wanted to try it at first even when he reassured them it was normal milk. People agreed it tasted alright, but they were still too disgusted to enjoy it. In the last part of his experiment, he had his participants try wine from two different bottles to see whether they could detect a difference in flavor. One bottle had a label that appeared to be cheaply made while the other looked more expensive, seeming to come from France. In reality, the bottles held the same wine that had actually come from a cheap box. Every time, the participants thought the cheap-looking wine was "forgettable," and the expensive-looking wine was delicious.

Dr. Wansink concluded that we actually taste with our eyes, not just our mouth. Color and presentation have a large effect on how we perceive taste because our life experiences have trained us to think that white milk is good and green milk is bad or red coloring means "strawberry" and yellow coloring means "lemon." Even when the flavor completely contradicts the presentation, our brains still process the flavor as the taste we expect instead of the taste we get.


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