maradon 333 / Shutterstock

Music Can Make Your Food Taste Better, and Other Ways Restaurants Influence Your Meals

Little changes can make a huge difference during your dining experience

maradon 333 / Shutterstock

Have you noticed a difference in the taste of your food when listening to music?

Music and food go hand in hand — music festivals like California’s Coachella and New York’s Governors Ball heavily integrate local cuisine as part of the experience, and music has also been used to enhance the flavor of beer, with one craft brewery using the Wu-Tang Clan to influence yeast during fermentation.

Although previous research has linked music to the perception of taste, a new book, Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating by Charles Spence, head of Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, deep-dives into how the interaction works and what restaurants can do to capitalize on it.

In one study to support the theory, Spence had 200 volunteers eat Pringles chips while listening to different sounds, the New York Post reported. Results showed that the chips were seen as being fresher when participants heard a loud crunching sound. In another study, Spence teamed up with chef Heston Blumenthal to serve two sets of identical oysters, one accompanied by ocean sounds and another by barn animal noises. They found that the oysters accompanied by ocean sounds were rated 30 percent saltier.

Spence told the Post there are many ways restaurants can influence the way you think your food tastes by simple tricks, which include:

  • Using certain menu descriptions: Meat described as “free-range” rather than “factory-farmed” was considered better-tasting.
  • Serving beer in a glass over a bottle: Allowing for the aroma to spread in a glass will allow the drinker to experience more flavor.
  • Using white plates: Desserts served on white plates have been rated 10 to 15 percent sweeter than desserts served on black plates.
  • Using heavier cutlery: Diners have rated food higher and are willing to pay more when using heavier spoons and forks.
  • Setting the scene with music: People rated the quality of pizza and pasta higher when listening to Italian opera.

To read more about how music can make your beer taste better, click here.