Do you remember the green ketchup? Even though it was no different than good ole red ketchup, I couldn't eat the stuff. It just didn't taste right. Why? Because color affects the taste or at least how we perceive something to taste.

In the same way, people make snap judgments about a person by the way they dress; we judge food by its color. The color influences our perception of how something tastes and can even fool our taste buds. In the case of orange juice, the brighter the hue of orange the sweeter we think it tastes.

Perception Of Taste Is Influenced By Color

The March issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that color directly influences our perception of taste. While that might not seem so surprising, what might be is the fact that researchers found that color was more of an influence than the product's quality or price.

Researcher shows that color was more of an influence on food preferences than a product’s quality or price.

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Researchers are looking at how individual attributes such as brand, price, or color affects the taste and which products we prefer. Hoegg and Alba measured what influenced people's perceptions by changing the color of orange juice, changing the sweetness, or by labeling the glasses with brand and quality information.

While brand name influenced some people's preferences for one cup of juice over another, they found that merely labeling one cup a premium brand and the other an inexpensive store brand did not affect perceptions of taste.

However, the same wasn't right when it came to the color of the orange juice. The color had a significant effect on the taster's perception of taste. As the authors put it: "color dominated taste."

When presented with two glasses of orange juice, one of which had its color enhanced with food coloring, the sampler's perceived differences in taste that did not exist. However, when given two glasses of orange juice that were the same color, with one cup sweetened with sugar, the same people failed to perceive taste differences. "

It seems unlikely that our consumers deliberately eschewed taste for color as a basis for discrimination", write the authors. "Moreover, our consumers succumbed to the influence of color but were less influenced by the powerful lure of brand and price information."

Seeing Color Affects Taste Perception

This video is from the  Scientific American vlog. In it, they take a look at how our vision can affect our taste perception. How what we see can sometimes override what we think we taste. Then they played with the color of food from wine to cheese to soft drinks, to show how our palates can be tricked into thinking we taste things that aren't necessarily there.

Feature Image Credit: Freshstock

Read Time: 2 min
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Kate Smith
Kate Smith is an optimistic, expressive, artist, designer, writer and color fanatic. With her warm and witty style, Kate teaches you to clearly see, understand and be inspired by color. Then she guides you step-by-step to develop your own unique color sense-ability and achieve results you never dreamed possible.
  • PERSON says:

    hmmm this is very interesting mainly because this website says that color can affect taste but i have seen a lot of other websites that say that color has absolutely NO effect to what we taste

    • Kate Smith says:

      I took a series of courses at UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology and read many research studies from UC and other research institute showing that color has a great influence on taste. It is why food companies put so much money into testing color, texture, taste, etc with groups of people before finalizing the product before taking it to market.

  • SuperNova says:

    Thank you so much for helping me with my science fair research!

  • Robin says:

    Thanks so much! I’m doing a science fair project on how color affects our preferences on food, and this is a great article to take notes from!

  • Hi-C says:

    Thanks for helping me with my science fair😄

  • jim says:

    Thank you for the idea to do this for a science fair but with apple and grape juice.

    • Kate Smith says:

      My pleasure. Let me know how it goes.:-)

  • kendel says:

    What is the science behind it?

    • Kate Smith says:

      Follow the links for the studies referenced in this article.

  • Damaris says:

    very interesting

    • Kate Smith says:

      I agree, Damaris. 🙂

      • Nefferorae C says:

        When was this made?

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