Does that mean that, because the stressed-out brain wants you to eat something sweet, it makes you perceive foods as being less sweet so that you'll eat more of it? The scientists don't take it that far, though it is interesting to note that strenuous physical exercise does the opposite -- when physically exhausted, you're more likely to taste the sugar in whatever you eat or drink. So if after a long run you chug some Gatorade and suddenly feel like somebody has shot you in the mouth with a sugar cannon, that's why.
And on top of all of that, scientists have found different people taste foods differently based on, not just their mood, but their overall personality. Different chemicals in your food react to different chemicals in your brain, thus the foods you like aren't just personal preference, they say something about how your brain works. Depressed people can't taste sweetness as well, people with panic disorders don't taste bitterness as strongly as others.
GettyWhich means all Robert Smith can taste is corn.
So keep that in mind the next time you shove something in a friend's face and say, "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE GOT TO TRY THIS ITS SOOOOOOO GOOD" and after taking a bite they ask if you're high. It's not just personal preference, they are literally tasting it differently than you.
Once again, this is one that seems obvious at first. Of course it matters how food looks -- there are people who work as food stylists whose job it is to dress up food for ads and menu photos. But color can affect your taste buds in all sorts of unexpected ways.
For instance, it's been found that the color of the glass in which the drink is served has the ability to alter how the drink itself tastes. Thanks to our odd tendency to unconsciously associate fiery colors with heat, one study found that drinkers perceived drinks served in yellow and red containers as being hotter than those (same) drinks served within blue and green containers. Other studies have shown that the color of the liquid itself influencing how sweet, sour, or bitter you find it to taste, with green having the effect of making sweet drinks seem even sweeter, while yellow makes them seem less sweet. Take a sour drink and change the color to yellow or green, and it'll taste less sour to you.
Photos.com"Mmmm ... what is that, goat's blood?"
It's all about expectations. Ever wonder why "hot" cinnamon candies are always red? A hot blue candy would just be... wrong. Which brings us to the weirdest experiment in this article, a famous 1970s study mentioned in the book Fast Food Nation.
The participants were placed in a room and asked to simply eat a meal consisting of steak, french fries, and peas, all of which the experimenters provided. To the untrained eye, the food was completely normal both color-wise and taste-wise, which should have aroused suspicion considering these people knew they were part of an experiment. We'd have expected the scientists to come out at the end and announce, "Congratulations, everything on your plate has touched my balls! For science!"
Photos.com"And that banana has been in Tony's ass. So fuck you."
But that wasn't it. Unbeknownst to the poor men and women eating this meal, the lights in the room were equipped with filters that hid the fact that all of their food had been dyed the wrong color. When they turned on the normal lights, the test subjects saw that the steak was actually blue, the fries were green, and the peas were red. Luckily for the scientific method, the reaction from the participants was fairly hard to misinterpret: they suddenly became violently ill at the sight of what they'd just eaten.
Find more from Adam at Alert Level Stork! and in The Four Humors, a collection of short stories by the writers at Wordplague.
For more things outside your control, check out 6 Weird Things That Influence Bad Behavior More Than Laws and 6 Factors That Secretly Influence Who You Have Sex With.