It may come as a surprise, but your senses are not as singular as you think. For example, what happens when you take white wine, color it red with food dye, and then give it to wine experts? Find out in the video below.
This simple example clearly demonstrates how much your sense of taste, or more accurately, what you brain interprets as the taste of something, is dependent on more than just taste buds. The taste of food is based on sight, smell, and taste.
Says Dana Small, a neuroscientist at the John B. Pierce Laboratory in New Haven, Conn., and the Yale School of Medicine:
Although sight is not technically part of taste, it certainly influences perception. Interestingly, food and drink are identified predominantly by the senses of smell and sight, not taste. Food can be identified by sight alone—we don’t have to eat a strawberry to know it is a strawberry. The same goes for smell, in many cases.
To our brains, “taste” is actually a fusion of a food’s taste, smell and touch into a single sensation.
For example, researchers have found that color can predominately determine the taste of a food or drink. For example, when evaluating the taste of orange juice, researchers have found that given two cups of the same Tropicana orange juice, with one cup darkened with food coloring, the members of the researcher’s sample group perceived differences in taste that did not exist. However, when given two cups of orange juice that were the same color, with one cup sweetened with sugar, the same people failed to perceive taste differences.
Marketers have long known about this connection. For instance, in 1957 marketing pioneer Louis Cheskin reported that adding 15 percent more yellow to green 7UP cans caused consumers to perceive the soft drink as having a more lemony-limey flavor.
Even more removed, researchers have also found that the color of the plate that you eat on influences taste perception.
As an example of how strong this connection can be, just think about eating a green french fry or yellow steak. Even if the food was perfectly normal, it’s not quite a jump to think how such a radical color change can affect your taste of it (or aversion to eating the food because you think it will taste bad). This same phenomena happened in this case of Crystal Pepsi. After Pepsi changed the color of the soda from brown to clear, while maintaining the same taste and ingredients, the sale of the soda plummeted. It was pulled from the shelves after a couple of months.
The video below is a good overview of the phenomena discussed above:
Your senses do not work alone, they are connected in concert to create many of our sensory experience. This means that different colors and smells can actually change the taste of your food. Because taste is created in the brain by combining these various senses, changing one aspect such as color does change what the perception of taste is.
Bet you didn’t know your brain was so jacked into reality control. Kind of matrix-like, isn’t it?