If you own a restaurant, you may want to think more carefully about the color of your dishes. I recently wrote about the power of color when it comes to marketing products and services, but did you know color might even influence how food tastes?
Back in 1951, marketing innovator Louis Cheskin turned advertising on its head with his groundbreaking work, Color for Profit, wherein he took a scientific approach to the ways in which color informs customer preferences. In a 1957 experiment, he added 15% more yellow to 7-Up’s green cans, which caused taste-testers to perceive a stronger lemon flavor.
Now a new report in the Journal of Sensory Studies states that test subjects found that the taste and aroma of hot chocolate varied based on the color of mug it was served in. The revival of this connection between sight and taste reminds restaurateurs that small tweaks—even just the color of dinnerware—can have a huge impact on how a dish’s flavor is perceived.
In the experiment, samples of hot chocolate were served in plastic cups of four different colors: red, orange, white, and dark cream. Most of the 57 volunteer tasters claimed that the hot chocolate tasted better when served in the dark cream or orange cups. Some of them also noted a stronger aroma in those instances.
The cup color affected the subjects’ perceived taste enough for Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, one of the researchers involved in the study, to suggest that food industry professionals should take note.
“In reality this varies depending on the type of food, but the truth is that, as this effect occurs, more attention should be paid to the colour of the container as it has more potential than one could imagine,” Piqueras-Fiszman said in a recent SINC news release.
So although the concept that we also “eat with our eyes” isn’t new, it might be worth exploring on your own menu. Experiment with friends and family members or trusted customers to understand how the perception of your flavor profiles might be linked to the color of your plates.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for her free TrendCast reports.