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Does Music Affect the Taste of Food?

A woman wears headphones while eating food from a bowl
Josep Suria/Shutterstock.com

When you eat food, it’s not just the taste that makes the experience enjoyable for you. There’s the visual element and, of course, the smell. But what about sound?

Does music affect the taste of food? You may be surprised to find out that it can—maybe!

Researchers at the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the University of Oxford conducted a study where participants were asked to rate the taste of cinder toffee on a sweet to bitter scale—each piece of toffee was exactly the same—as different music played.

At the end of the study, researchers found music with a higher pitch, like flutes or violins, enhanced the sweetness of the toffee. On the other hand, music with a lower pitch, like bass instruments, enhanced the bitter notes. The actual food never changed, but participants’ perception of certain flavors did.

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Play your favorite songs in any room of the house.

Try it out yourself! Grab a piece of dark chocolate or a glass of dry red wine and play some music. Pay special attention to the pitch and sounds of the music. Go ahead and take a bite of the chocolate or sip the wine (or both!).

Chances are, if the song has a higher pitch, you will automatically pay special attention to the sweet flavors. However, if the song has a lower pitch, the bitter flavors in the chocolate and wine might stand out more.

Crazy, right? So while you’re enjoying your favorite musical TV shows during dinner, don’t be shocked if the music affects your tastebuds!

Lindsay Ray Lindsay Ray
Lindsay is a lifestyle and beauty writer currently living in Arizona. She has several years of experience as a freelance writer and reporter, with a specialized interest in the beauty and lifestyle space. From beauty hacks to DIY home décor and everything in between -- Lindsay has a passion for crafting stories that entertain, educate, and inspire. Her writing has appeared in Thought Catalog, The List, Drink Me Magazine, the Auburn Examiner, and Litro Magazine in the United Kingdom. Read Full Bio »
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