Listening to sweet sounds while eating may delight your ears just as much as your tastebuds, a new study finds.
Set to publish in the January 2017 edition of the journal Appetite, research by Felipe Reinoso Carvalho, Janice Wang, Raymond van Ee, Dominique Persoone and Charles Spence suggests music may affect the way listeners taste chocolate, particularly its perceived “creaminess.”
For this study, 116 participants were asked to eat identical pieces of chocolate while listening to two different soundtracks designed to evoke either “creaminess” or “roughness.” The participants did not know the chocolate pieces — created by Persoone of The Chocolate Line in Bruges, Belgium — were identical.
Divided into four groups, participants were presented with a bitter chocolate tablet, as well as two matching chocolates created for the experiment. The experiment pieces were made with either 71 percent or 80 percent cocoa and moulded into either round or angular shapes.
After tasting the bitter chocolate tablet, participants were asked to eat and rate one chocolate while listening to the “creamy” soundtrack, a recording of long flute notes. They did the same with the second piece of chocolate while listening to the “rough” soundtrack, a recording of three violins playing short, dissonant notes.
Chocolate type did not have a significant effect on the participants’ ratings, the study says, but they found the chocolates to taste “creamier” and sweeter while listening to the “creamy” soundtrack. Participants also enjoyed the “creamy” soundtrack more than the “rough” one and felt it better matched its intended concept.
The study’s authors say the results could prove useful to food innovation since they show that sound can have an effect on the perception and enjoyment of food.