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Does Sound Affect The Flavor of Food? Scientists Say Yes

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Does Sound Affect The Flavor of Food? Scientists Say Yes
Photo Andy Wright/Flickr

Popping the cork off a champagne bottle, sizzling meat on a pan, the crackle of marshmallows roasting over a fire…all of these food experiences are enhanced by the sounds they produce. That’s according to new research that proves sound affects the flavor of food.

In a new report, Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, explains how we "eat with our ears." He says that sound - such as the crispness of an apple - can be an indicator of freshness. Even the background music played at a restaurant may affect the flavor of food. "If I’m having Italian food and I’m hearing music of that region, it may make me perceive the food as more authentic,” he says.

This science hasn’t been lost on food manufacturers, chefs and even museum curators. We’ve seen edible operas at Michelin-starred restaurants, fireworks you can taste and even a new multi-sensory museum exhibit dedicated to food. Most recently, Haagen-Dazs launched an app that allows customers to listen to classical music while their ice cream softens.

So what does this mean for the future of food?

Spence told Time magazine he expects modernist chefs will continue to lead the field of multi-sensory dining. A handful of restaurants around the world are already offering theatrical menus with music, lighting and special effects. Here's a peek at what it's like to dine at Paco Roncero's Sublimotion in Ibiza:

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