In 2012, the snack company Mondelez, the owner of Cadbury’s, made another misstep. When it changed the classic rectangular chunks of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk into curved segments, customers complained that the chocolate tasted “too sugary” and “sickly.” Spence and other researchers have found that curved shapes can enhance sweetness. In one experiment, diners reported that a cheesecake tasted twenty per cent sweeter when it was eaten from a round white plate rather than a square one. In any case, Spence said, consumers are constantly, if unwittingly, proving his point that taste can be altered through color, shape, or sound alone. “These effects do exist,” he said. “The only question is whether and how we will use them.”

Nicola Twilley, writing in The New Yorker about how the color of containers and the sound of food ─ even the sound of packaging ─ influences our perception of flavor, and how one researcher is enlarging science’s understanding of the multisensorial experience of eating.

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