Singing 'Happy Birthday' Makes Cake Taste Better

A new study found that going through rituals makes a person savor food more

Flickr/will clayton
Singing 'Happy Birthday' might make your birthday cake just a bit sweeter.

All right, fine; screw embarrassment, we're never skipping the "Happy Birthday" song again (despite our tone-deaf ears). A new study published in Psychological Science concludes that performing rituals before eating might help enhance the flavor of food. So singing "Happy Birthday"? It can make that store-bought monstrosity actually delicious.

Researchers at University of Minnesota created three experiments, one in which participants ate chocolate, another in which they ate carrots, and a third where they drank lemonade.

For the chocolate test, they were either told a specific way to eat it, or allowed to eat it whenever they wanted. When the participants ate the chocolate in a routine way, they reportedly enjoyed the chocolate more.

For the second experiment, researchers found that people enjoyed food the longer they waited to eat it. Finally, research found that when watching someone else make the lemonade, it doesn't taste any better. But making that lemonade yourself? It does (which explains why this reporter thinks she's a great cook while others think she under-seasons).

Researchers chalk up the taste differences to "intrinsic interest." A ritual or an involvement with the food "draw[s] people into what they're doing," rather than mindlessly devouring food, researchers say. So sing it loud and proud, birthday revelers.


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