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Does in-flight food taste that bad? It’s your tongue’s error dude!

October 18th, 2010        

Does in-flight food taste that bad? It’s your tongue’s error dude!

Have you been taking long-haul flights? They ban outside food, what a shame. The sandwiches that mum made were donkey years better than those provided by airlines. Not only will you be the envy of all your fellow passengers, but you also don’t have to eat bad food that seems to only be served when you’re not hungry. However, it seems airline food may not be so bad after all. It might be us with the problem.

Does in-flight food taste that bad? It’s your tongue’s error dude!

Recent research by Unilever shows that background noise plays a part in how tasty and crunchy we perceive food to be. The BBC cites Andy Woods, a researcher from Unilever’s laboratories and the University of Manchester, who said that Unilever’s R&D department wanted investigate why everyone thought airplane food was so bad. (Disclaimer: I never complaint though).

“I’m sure airlines do their best – and given that, we wondered if there are other reasons why the food would not be so good. One thought was perhaps the background noise has some impact,” he told BBC News. “Nasa gives their space explorers very strong-tasting foods, because for some reason they can’t taste food that strongly – again, perhaps it’s the background noise. There was no previous research on this, so we went about seeing if the hunch was correct.”

The team then carried out a small study, comprised of just 48 people, feeding blindfolded participants sweet foods such as cookies or salty foods such as potato chips while playing silence or white noise through headphones. The participants then rated the intensity of the flavors and their crunchiness.

Results showed that when background noise was present, foods were rated less salty or sweet by participants than they were in the absence of background noise. Foods were also rated as more crunchy when background noise was present. Researchers are now exploring whether or not the kind of background noise, and whether the diner enjoys the noise, contributes to the overall tastiness of the food. Or maybe there’s something wrong with his ears.

SOURCE via BBC UK

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