A simple change in sound can completely flip the flavour experience. Want to know how?

Stuffing your mouth full of crisps, or breaking off a chunk of chocolate with your teeth. The human brain gets a kick from the sound of eating. And background noise is just as important.

Sound is an important definer of flavour experience. In fact, a simple change in sound can completely flip the flavour experience. Oxford University, in collaboration with Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK, has discovered that the flavour of coffee and chocolate changes whilst listening to high, or low tones. High frequencies stimulate sweet taste stimuli, whilst low tones stimulate bitterness.

On the internet, you can experience the change in flavour of a piece of chocolate or cup of coffee yourself. Listen with headphones and switch between the noises. What happens to your taste?

Loud flavours
Charles Spence, professor at the University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology faculty, has studied the noises associated with eating crisps. Spence claims that crisps are thought to be 15% crunchier when the noise level of the eating is louder, and more high pitched tones are audible.

Food service professionals and restaurant owners need to be aware of what noises their dishes make when being eaten. And the effect background noise has. What’s being played as background music, by the way?

Read the article in The Ultimate Seduction Issue