Have you ever thought about how cutlery influences food taste? Many scientists, designers and researchers have been investigating this matter.
Their findings are extremely interesting and they all confirm a strong bond between the cutlery used and the food taste and perceived value.
Read this article to find out about the 5 researches that will make you change your cutlery immediately.
5 astonishing researches on how cutlery influences food
1) Testing size, weight, shape and colour of the cutlery
Size, weight, shape and colour of cutlery affect food taste, this was revealed by an interesting research from the university of Oxford.
Apparently, if you eat cheese with a knife, it tastes saltier. If you eat yogurt with a white spoon, it tastes better. And remember if you eat a yogurt with a white spoon it seems sweeter than eating it with a black spoon. Food tastes also sweeter if eaten with a small spoon.
2) Eating as a multi-sensory experience
The idea that eating is a multi-sensory experience is brought by many, one interesting case is the one of Jinhyun Jeon, a graduate from a design university in the Netherlands.
For his master thesis, he decided to explore the influence of cutlery on our dining appreciation, by examining if there is a way to create cutlery that improves it.
His idea derives from the concept of synesthesia. This is a phenomenon whereby a particular sensory stimulation leads to an automatic and involuntary activation of another sensory experience, so more than one sense is involved in the reaction to a particular stimulus.
For example, think of letter A, what colour do you associate it with? Yellow, red? Everyone has a different opinion. Another rare form of synesthesia is the one which associates a word with a food, for example the word chair tastes like strawberries. It’s along the lines of this interesting concept that the student Jinhyun developed his own research.
He purposely created cutlery that affects the five sensory elements: colour, tactility, temperature, volume and weight, and form.
His cutlery has certainly a very futuristic look. He thinks that the eating experience can be enhanced with the use of cutlery that has elements stimulating the senses, in his study he utilises different materials, colours and also different shapes to test these effects.
His findings are incredible:
- Temperature: it seems to influence the taste very much. Things taste sweeter at body temperature. Salt becomes saltier when the temperature is lower.
- Colour: colours such as orange and red increase the appetite. Orange particularly, because it gives more oxygen supply to the brain, and therefore it enhances mental activity.
- Volume and weight: these two features influence our perception too. When the cutlery is heavier increases the auditory sense, for example we can hear more the scraping of the fork on the dish. Lightweight cutlery is useful because it makes us realise the weight of the food and therefore this might help with eating less.
- Shape: Jinhyun added to its cutlery some elements, these demonstrated to be useful to increase the intimacy with the object and also to increase our comfort. Particularly the thickness of the handle let us be more aware whilst eating.
He considers cutlery as an extension of ourselves.
3) The perfect spoon
Dr Zoe Laughlin decided to find the perfect spoon once for all, so he started an experiment to discover the influence of the materials with regard to sweet, salty and acidic foods.
He investigated the following materials: copper, chrome, zinc, tin, stainless steel, gold, and silver. And guess what was the favourite spoon material?
The best spoon is the gold one, the second best is the stainless steel one, because these materials make the food tastier. Silver spoons seem to be the least favourite because they release a sort of metallic taste in the mouth. However, sweet foods are better if eaten with zinc and copper spoons.
4) Cutlery & food perception
Another research confirms that multi-sensory design really affects how the food is perceived and for this reason, not only we judge the food by its taste but also by HOW it’s served. People working in the food industry should bear this in mind if they want to have more chances of success with their customers.
In the experiment, various groups were tested at a dinner party to evaluate the influence, in any, of the cutlery on the perception of food. The results were extraordinary, it seems that cutlery affects the liking, aesthetic value, and willingness to pay for the food, so even the cost of the food is associated with the cutlery. Particularly the weight of cutlery was associated with better quality food.
The food again turns out to be a multi-sensory experience which involves the smell, how we feel about it, the look and so on.
5) The finger-spoon
This spoon is designed to resemble to a finger and must be used for eating creamy foods and dips, it has more or less the function of a honey dipper.
The idea of this finger-spoon stems from the fact that eating with fingers brings a totally different experience in terms of sensations. When Goûte was tested, participants found that food tasted considerably better when using this utensil. As a result, the food value went up by 40%!
With all these evidences brought by the science is hard not to agree that cutlery influences food taste.
These findings are extremely interesting for a variety of businesses, but also for whoever is trying to be healthier at the dinner table. In fact, other well-known studies have shown how eating from a small plate makes you eat less, for example.
Are you going to apply any of these suggestions to your business?
Perhaps you can start using orange plates to stimulate the taste buds and gets more orders.
Or if you are a take-away restaurant, you could start using stainless steel coated disposable cutlery to enhance your customer experience.