The Scientific Reason Bloody Marys Taste Better on Airplanes

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iStock

If you’re not sure what to pair with that B-movie the next time you’re cruising at 30,000 feet, science suggests you try a Bloody Mary—and not just because it will make the plot of Taken 3 seem more plausible.

According to a group of Cornell-based researchers, tomato juice tastes better up in the air. The reason: the noise level on an airplane influences our perceptions of taste. In a study published recently in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 48 participants sampled a range of tomato juices—some were sweeter, while some were more salty or bitter. During the session, the noise level was steadily increased and participants were asked to rate the intensity of each flavor. The noisier the environment, the more difficulty people had detecting sweet flavors. Savory flavors, however—including tomatoes’ earthy “umami” taste—were easier to pick up.

This isn’t exactly news to airlines. Last year, a Lufthansa executive reported that they sell as much tomato juice as they do beer on flights. The company ordered a study of their own, which determined that the air pressure and humidity levels on planes make bolder drinks and foods more appealing.

There you go: official permission to spice up your next flight. Thanks, science!

[h/t: Esquire

Wasps Are Getting Drunk and Terrorizing People in England

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iStock

Go home, wasps. You’re drunk.

Thousands of “boozy wasps” are terrorizing the UK after imbibing the nectar of fermented fruit and cider left behind at pub gardens, Travel + Leisure reports. Experts warn that there’s a greater risk of getting stung at this time of year, especially while boozing outdoors or eating sweet foods.

The sudden change in diet highlights an issue with the insects' food supply: Wasps typically drink a kind of sugar-spit produced by larvae, but the hive queens have already stopped laying larvae by this time of year, and wasps have been unable to get their fill. They also carry a genetic trait that makes them go crazy for sugary foods and alcohol, and other factors have escalated the problem. For one, last year's cold winter translated to an early wasp season, which allowed them to build larger-than-normal nests.

"Wasps have built absolutely massive nests and, now that all the larvae have grown up and the queen has stopped laying eggs, the colonies have a workforce with nothing to do—and nothing to eat," pest control expert Shane Jones told the Daily Mail. "So they go down to the pub, obviously."

What they really want is sugar, which can be found in fermented fruit, cider, and fruity beers. Because wasps are lightweights, just one sip will get them drunk—and you don’t want to see them when they’re tipsy. "Wasps can't handle their booze, so they get tanked-up and fighty—like lager louts,” Jones says. Alcohol can make the insects more irritable and more likely to sting people.

The best way to avoid the problem, according to Dee Ward-Thompson, technical manager at the British Pest Control Association, is to keep the sugary goodies they're craving out of sight. “Maybe the most influential factor on wasp numbers is when people do not dispose of their waste properly, especially food with a high sugar content, such as fruit," Ward-Thompson told the Nottingham Post. “We always advise waste to be securely bagged and held within a clean container, away from where young children might play.”

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

This Country Has the Most Expensive Beer in the World

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iStock

Iceland may be more affordable than many other European destinations, but if you want to save money, don't spend too much time at the pub. That's because a bjór there will set you back $12.75, making it the world's most expensive destination for beer, according to an infographic created by UK-based appliance manufacturer Amica.

Using data from The Wall Street Journal and cost-of-living information from numbeo.com, Amica set out to determine how much beer you'd get in bars around the world for $1. In Iceland, apparently, it's not very much. For $1, you’ll receive 45ml, or “barely a sip,” as Amica puts it.

The high price of alcohol in Iceland has much to do with taxes. Alcohol is taxed by volume, so the state would collect 94.1 percent of a bottle’s retail price for a one-liter bottle of vodka priced at $66, according to Iceland Magazine. Next to Iceland, the most expensive countries to order a pint in are Norway, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, and France.

The U.S. isn’t significantly better off, though. On average, $1 will get you 83ml of beer, or about two shot glasses full. Of course, there are notable exceptions, depending on the quality of the beer and the type of establishment you find yourself in.

As for the cheapest countries for beer, Paraguay and Vietnam are your best bets, followed by Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Nigeria. In parts of Vietnam (primarily Hanoi), you can sit outdoors on a low plastic stool and order a type of fresh, preservative-free beer called bia hoi (literally “gas beer”), which sells for less than 50 cents per glass.

Check out Amica's infographic below, which uses a 568ml pint glass to help people visualize the amount of beer they'll get for a buck.

An infographic of beer prices around the world
Amica

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