Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sound is rarely considered when food is discussed, yet using all available cues from our five senses to decide what to eat is essential to our survival. From sight—the appearance of the food, or even its packaging—we gain a lot of information. Thus it is not surprising that we tend to associate the color red with sweetness and yellow with sourness, as a ripe fruit is more likely to be red. Sweets manufacturers have long been aware of this color association, and consequently they produce sweets in all kinds of colors and shapes. Sometimes the change of color indicates a change in flavor, but sometimes it does not. As for smell, after examining a given food, we will usually smell it before putting it into our mouth, especially if we have doubts about its freshness. See olfaction. Once we are chewing a given food, our sense of touch, which is very developed in the mouth, will further inform us about some of its characteristics. Finally, the sounds heard when biting into a given food can tell us a lot about its texture and can influence our perception of its freshness. For example, it has been shown that modifying the sound heard when biting into chips will change their perceived crispiness and freshness.