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From the Design Desk: How do we taste color?

If you're at all familiar with the Percy Jackson series of young adult books, you'll know the main character (who happens to be the son of Poseidon) has a long standing joke with his mother about blue food, thanks to an offhand comment by his step-father about how it doesn't exist.  His mother goes out of her way to give him blue food - she buys him blue candy, blue chips, makes blue cake for his birthday, etc. There's something vaguely unsettling about blue food - or any food that is colored differently than we think it should be.  Even when we know it's just a bit of food coloring, our brains naturally react to certain colors of food.  I mean, it's an age old question we've asked ourselves since youth: would you really eat green eggs and ham? In a fantastic study detailed here by The Guardian, Oxford experimental psychologist Charles Spence put food and vision to the test, stating that
"Half the brain is visual in some sense, versus just a few percent for overall taste senses. So in cortical real estate, vision is always going to win." This is in part why the color of our food and drink can not only determine whether it is appetizing, but its flavor, too.
Spence has tricked people into confusing salt and vinegar crisps with cheese and onion flavor merely by switching packets. "Many of our subjects will taste the color of the crisp packet, not the crisp itself," he says. Our brains excel in picking up associations and using them as shortcuts. When the color makes us expect something to taste a certain way, we'll taste what we expect unless it's shockingly different.
The full article is definitely worth a read - and poses an interesting thought for designers.  What we see is tied so clearly to our sense of taste when it comes to food.  We already know that color evokes strong emotional responses - so what other senses can we tap into using color?

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