DailyDirt: Engineering The Perfect Taste
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
We know it’s not good for us, but why are we so addicted to processed foods? Part of it is related to convenience, but perhaps the real reason is because processed foods taste good — that is, if you like a lot of sugar, salt, and fat. As much as we would like to not think about it, a lot of science (and money for research, development, and marketing) goes into designing the perfect-tasting junk food that will have people coming back for more. Here are a few examples of how science is being used to trick our taste buds.
- The science behind the creation and marketing of junk food can be useful for food companies, but it can also be contributing to the rising rates of obesity in the U.S. Apparently, the key to designing the perfect junk food is to find the “bliss point” by optimizing levels of ingredients like sugar, salt, and fat. Also, in addition to taste, the crunch and mouth feel of junk food is just as important. For example, the perfect potato chip is one that breaks with about four pounds of pressure per square inch. [url]
- PepsiCo has reportedly developed a low-sodium potato chip that tastes just as salty as the original. The secret ingredient is “Crystal Salt” which is powdery like confectioner’s sugar, allowing it to dissolve more efficiently on the tongue, so people taste more salt even though there’s actually less of it on the chip. [url]
- The airline food industry should take some tips from the junk food industry and find a way to make airline food taste better. It turns out that people’s taste buds don’t work so well in-flight due to a combination of low cabin humidity and changes in air pressure. Astronauts in zero gravity seem to suffer from similar diminished tasting ability as well. [url]
If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.