Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Sat May 16 2015

Some Airplane Food Tastes Better Thanks to That Annoyingly Loud Airplane Noise

Entertainment | Gabe Zaldivar | May 16, 2015

Some Airplane Food Tastes Better Thanks to That Annoyingly Loud Airplane Noise

Image via Thinkstock

Crank up the Slayer or just ditch the noise-canceling headphones, because noise apparently makes food taste better.

That’s the good word coming from Cornell University (h/t LA Times), which reports the loud noises heard on an airplane actually make certain foods taste better such as tomato-rich fare.

Blaine Friedlander, in writing for the Cornell Chronicle, explains, “A Japanese scientific term, umami describes the sweet, savory taste of amino acids such as glutamate in foods like tomato juice, and according to the new study, in noisy situations — like the 85 decibels aboard a jetliner — umami-rich foods become your taste bud’s best buds.”

We aren’t in the habit of eating in loud environments. The best we can tell this kind of noisy nourishment happens when we happen to be enjoying countless wings at a sports bar, nachos at a ballgame, random snacks at a concert or, more specifically to the report, aboard an airplane.

Now we wouldn’t ever consider airplane food to be among the tastiest in the world, but if we are crediting its small measure of taste to sound then we say crank the plane up to 11:

Robin Dando is an assistant professor of food science at the university and explained to Friedlander a bit more what is at play: “Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced.”

Dando continued, “The multisensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat.”

So that Bloody Mary or regular ol’ tomato juice isn’t made from special fruit afforded to just airlines. It seems it tastes the way it does because you can’t hear yourself think up in the air.

Albeit that might be a simplistic explanation, because the report hints that it’s not just sound but “several sensory inputs” that work to create an altered taste for some foods.

Unfortunately, you can pretty much skip the chocolates and other desserts when dining 35,000 feet in the air.

We do have to highlight that Dando states some foods were negatively affected by the experiments. The professor states sweet tastes were “inhibited” during the study.  

However, this is all we need to buy several jugs of Bloody Mary mix, a couple handles of vodka, and put on our heavy metal mix.

It’s time to conduct studies of our own.


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