The size, weight, shape and colour of your cutlery can affect how food
tastes, a new study suggests.
In the research, participants thought white yoghurt tasted sweeter than
pink-coloured yoghurt when eaten from a white spoon, but the reverse was true
when a black spoon was used.
These findings could help people improve their eating habits by reducing
portion sizes or the amount of salt they add to their food, the researchers
"How we experience food is a multi-sensory experience involving taste, the
feel of the food in our mouths, aroma and the feasting of our eyes," said
Vanessa Harrar and Charles Spence of the University of Oxford, in the United
"Even before we put food into our mouths, our brains have made a judgement
about it, which affects our overall experience."
They found that yoghurt seemed denser and more expensive when eaten with a
plastic spoon. White yoghurt was rated sweeter, more liked and more expensive
than pink-coloured yoghurt when they were eaten with a white spoon. These
effects were reversed when the two colours of yoghurt were eaten with a black
When participants were offered cheese on a knife, spoon, fork or toothpick,
they said the cheese from the knife tasted saltiest, according to the study.
"Subtly changing eating implements and tableware can affect how pleasurable,
or filling, food appears," Harrar said. "When serving a dish, one should keep in
mind that the colour of the food appears different depending on the background
on which it is presented and, therefore, tastes different."
This may also be used to help control eating patterns such as portion size or
how much salt is added to food. Alternatively, people may be able to make better
food choices if their ingrained colour associations are disrupted by less
constant advertising and packaging.
Previous research has shown that the weight and colour of a plate can alter
peoples' perceptions of how dense, salty or sweet food tastes.
The US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders has
more about taste
and taste disorders.