There's a new article on Cracked about the five weirdest things that influence how your food tastes. Check 'em out . . .
#1.) Color. Studies have shown that the color of a drink influences how sweet, sour, or bitter you think it is. Green makes it seem sweeter, and yellow makes it seem less sweet. But it's not just the color of the drink that matters. The color of the GLASS also has an effect. One study showed that if you serve coffee in a yellow or red cup, people will perceive it as being hotter than if it's in a blue or green cup. But the best example was mentioned in the book "Fast Food Nation". In the 1970's, scientists put people in a special room and gave them what LOOKED like a normal dinner consisting of steak, French fries, and peas. But they used special lighting to hide the fact that steak was died blue, the fries were green, and the peas were red. The volunteers had no problem eating the food when it looked normal. But when they found out they'd just eaten a blue steak, they got sick.
#2.) Your Mood. In a 1998 study, researchers asked people to rate how sweet an artificial sweetener was. Then they had them rate it again . . . after making them try to solve unsolvable puzzles, and randomly blasting them with loud horn sounds. After they were annoyed, the volunteers rated the artificial sweetener as LESS sweet . . . even though it was the exact same thing.
#3.) Background Noise. Basically, if it's too loud, your senses get overloaded and your brain loses the ability to gauge how sweet or salty your food is. That's why the music at restaurants is pretty quiet. But silence isn't good either. Studies have shown that food tastes best if the music in the restaurant is between 62 and 67 decibels . . . which is about the same level as a normal conversation.
#4.) The Label. Just suggesting that it MIGHT not taste good is apparently enough. For example, in one study people had to try two pieces of lunchmeat: One with a label that said "low-fat," and one that didn't. And even though the one that said "low-fat" WASN'T low-fat, they still said it tasted worse. Another study also found that just adding the word "substance" to a food label made the food taste worse.
#5.) What Your Mom Ate While She Was Pregnant. This one's more of a stretch. But in one study, kids were more likely to enjoy carrot juice . . . or even CRAVE it . . . if their mother drank it while she was pregnant or breastfeeding.