How Your Eyes Can Change How You Eat

Green hamburgers, blue ketchup, purple strawberries? There’s a reason the thought of weird colored food makes you squirm. It’s got nothing to do with the food’s actual taste, and everything to do with color.

The reason for this is that we all form certain expectations for our food based on past experiences. These standards are not just based on taste, in fact, how we perceive the food’s color will often override our sense of taste entirely. Even causing us to imagine that the taste of our food is different simply because the color is different.

In 2013, a study was published about this strange relationship between color and taste that described this phenomenon in greater detail. Individuals were each given two glasses of wine, both were the same kind of white wine, but the second glass had been tinted a dark red color so that it resembled a cabernet or merlot. When they sipped, the pure white wine participants described its flavor in terms that are generally used to describe just white wine. When asked to describe the flavor of the disguised, red-tinted wine people used terms that normally would apply to the taste of red wines only. The coloring was derived from grapes, but it was odorless and tasteless. So how is it that the same people could perceive two cups of the same wine so differently? The answer lies in the color of the wine itself.

Not only can color change perceived tastes, but it can also change perceived flavor intensity. One study showed that the stronger the color the sweeter the taste. Conversely, lack of color in food that you’re familiar with can cause you to perceive less flavor even if that’s the only difference between the two foods.

Color and taste science most definitely highlight the need for accurate and consistent color testing and measurement in the food industry. Just minor adjustments to the color can completely transform how your customers perceive your product. By ensuring that your colors are always the same, it will make sure your customers see and taste your food as they should.

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