Does color affect your taste?


Have you ever looked at a piece of food and knew how it tasted? Without ever putting the food in your mouth you were able to determine how sweet or bitter it was. This happens because of how color affects one’s taste. 

Color is often the first aspect noticed about foods and drinks and it can be the most influential. Many times the flavor or taste of a food is known just by the looks. For example, the color red is associated with sweetness.

One study done by The National Library of Medicine, experimented with this effect. In the study, 401 participants were given samples of one of three flavors: grapefruit, lemon, or raspberry. 

The participants were given the same drink in four different receptacles. These containers differed by color and weight, the results of the test showed a great influence of color on perceived taste of the drink.

The study said, “Specifically, in terms of sweetness, red-coloured drinks have been found to enhance the detection of sweetness.”

Drinks that were served in a red container were reported more sweet and more carbonated than the same drink served in a black container, 

On another note, colors that are not associated with regular foods have an impact on taste too. One study put steak under a blue light for participants to eat. Some volunteers reported feeling sick after seeing the blue-lit steak. Due to the fact that the color blue is not natural for steak, the participants felt uncomfortable or even queasy at its sight.

How bright the color is also affects its perceived taste. According to Spoon University, a website dedicated to helping provide recipes and nutritional information to students, colors that are brighter are seen as being more nutritious and having more flavor. This is why the candy Skittles are appealing to consumers as its bright colors assume greater taste. 

Colors additionally can trigger hunger responses. The color yellow is known to increase appetite. According to Color Psychology, “Yellow is associated with happiness and energy, and it is said to even stimulate one’s metabolism.”

 The logo for McDonald’s capitalizes on this fact with its use of red and yellow. With the use of yellow to increase appetite and red to increase heart rate, it is a perfect combination to make consumers more likely to pull in to eat.

This image is of a McDonald’s sign outside one of its restaurants. Its use of the colors red and yellow lure consumers to the store by using psychological tricks to increase their appetite. “Dying McDonald’s Logo, Shepherd’s Bush, 16-10-06” by DG Jones is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

The color white has psychological effects with white being associated with saltines and also relate to emptiness and harmlessness. Foods such as popcorn support this fact and allows for mass consumption of the food without thinking about it.

Additionally, the color of food plays an important role in determining how it tastes. It can make you taste flavors that aren’t even present and possibly increase hunger. The next time you think a food is appetizing, think about how colors can influence your decisions, it may just surprise you.

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