Eating with your Ears: The Effect of Music on Taste

You eat with your eyes.

This is probably the most famous culinary idiom in the world. It’s the reason why Television chefs have jobs when we can’t taste the food that they make.

The concept works on assumptions and our memory. We see, we anticipate, and we taste what we expect to taste.

But what about our ears?

There has recently been a plethora of study attempting to affect the perception of taste by playing audio before and during people’s meals.

And all of these studies have arrived at the same conclusion over the years: humans do eat with their ears. 

To start simply, Zampini and Spence found that the louder the crunch of a crisp, the fresher that crisp was perceived to be.

Spence furthered this study by serving people a plate of eggs and bacon whilst playing either the sound of bacon sizzling or farmyard chickens clucking, finding that the subjects would then overstate the strength of the flavour of bacon or egg respectively.

But these are both sounds that directly relate to the food that’s being eaten. What about music? 

Well, we have found tons of little musical tips and tricks to communicate taste. High-pitched sounds, for example, stir the taste of sharp and sour foods. Alternately, low-pitched sounds highlight bitter and earthy notes.

These tips and tricks were put to work at a recent wine tasting, whereupon one red and one white were chosen to be tasted 5 times under the guise of different labels.

The study found that they could make this same wine taste ‘powerful and heavy’, ‘zingy and refreshing’, ‘subtle and refined’ and ‘mellow and soft’ respective to the music that was played in the background during the tasting.

As audio branding enthusiasts, we’ve been very excited about these studies in the office for several months now.

They provide confirmation of what we’ve been shouting out for years: We can tell people how your product tastes without them buying it – and we can make it taste better when they do buy it!

So how does your product taste? And how does that sound?

I’m here to chat about how to affect assumptions about your brand through audio whenever you need me.

Just drop me a line at henry@getcarterproductions.co.uk