Does Noise Affect How Food Tastes?

Background noise can affect the way people taste food. Louder noise tends to make foods seem less salty or sweet, and it increases the perception of crunchiness. Researchers postulate that this might be one of the reasons that airplane food is notorious for tasting bland, despite the fact that it is heavily seasoned.

More facts about the effects of noise:

  • Besides dampening the taste of food, loud noise can also decrease the perception of pain. This is why some doctors recommend that patients who have chronic pain listen to a white noise generator for several hours a day.

  • The type of noise can affect the way that people perceive foods as well. More pleasant mixes of background noise enhance the flavor of food, and annoying noises make food seem less flavorful.

  • Many other factors affect the taste of food as well, including the lighting in which it is eaten, the temperature of the food — for instance, taste buds are most receptive around 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) — and even food color.
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Discussion Comments


@RoyalSpyder - You're spot on as to why noise affects what we taste. As people, we love to eat, and food makes us happy. However, if we're constantly distracted or interrupted, it can ruin our appetite, or even hinder us from full enjoyment. In fact, the same can be said for animals as well. My dog starts growling when I try to get his attention while eating. He's warning me to back off because he doesn't want to be bothered.


@Chmander - I haven't heard of that concept either. Although it's still interesting regardless. I think it may be based on the fact that we don't like to be bothered when we're eating. Have you ever been enjoying a meal, and someone interrupts or distracts you, annoying you? I think that might be what the article is referring to.


I can definitely understand how temperature affects food. For example, I only eat potato salad when it's cold. When microwaved, it just doesn't taste right. Also, though the article doesn't mention it, texture can also affect how we taste our food, especially when it's chewy or mushy. Tapioca is a great example.

However, how does noise affect what we eat? I know the article explains it in the best way possible, but it's still a bit confusing, as I haven't heard that concept before.

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