Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

shape, perhaps against expectation, influences the way we perceive sweetness, leading to the question of whether sweetness itself has a shape. While the question might seem like a nonsensical one, a growing body of empirical evidence now documents the fact that the majority of Western consumers will match sweet-tasting foods with rounded (rather than angular) shapes. Why such an association should exist is not altogether clear. It may have something to do with the fact that both sweetness and roundness are treated as positive sensory attributes. By contrast, most Westerners match bitterness, sourness, and carbonation with more angular shapes, the link in these cases perhaps being that all three cues are associated with stimuli that are potentially dangerous or bad for us, and hence generally best avoided.