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This Is How Sound Affects the Way Your Food Tastes

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Taste and smell are linked—a fact that becomes clear if you eat your favorite foods while you have a cold. The sense that you might not realize is affecting your palate? Sound. Food podcast The Sporkful recently took a closer look at the illusion of taste during an interview with psychologist Charles Spence, an expert in the relationship between sound and taste.

Past research certainly backs up the notion. A 2004 study found that loud crunching sounds make people think chips are crispier and a 2014 study Spence conducted found that noise impaired people’s ability to taste sweet and sour. After several recent product redesigns for iconic brands like Coca-Cola and Cadbury chocolate, people complained that the new packaging came with a change in taste—though the recipe was the same.

Still don’t believe it? Try this experiment. Take a bite of some dark chocolate (or any other food) and really concentrate on how it tastes. Now do it again, listening to this high-pitched sound while you savor it.

Now listen to a low-pitched sound while you chew:

The first, high-pitched sound should have made the chocolate taste a little bit sweeter, and the second, low-pitched sound should have made it taste a little more bitter. I used M&Ms—the closest thing to the recommended dark chocolate in the office vending machine—and while the bitterness effect was very subtle, the high-pitched sound definitely made the candies taste sweeter.

A trained ear can even tell if food is being chopped properly just by listening:

Hungry for more? Listen to The Sporkful here.

[h/t: The Science of Us]

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Alexa Can Now Help You Find a Wine Pairing
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Even if you enjoy wine regularly, you may not know exactly how you’re supposed to pair it with food. But you don’t have to be a sommelier to put together a good pairing at home. According to Lifehacker, you can just ask Alexa.

An Alexa skill called Wine Finder is designed to help you figure out which wine varietal would go best with whatever food you’re planning to eat. You just have to ask, “What wine goes well with … ”

Created by an app developer called Bloop Entertainment, the Amazon Echo skill features a database with 500 wine pairings. And not all of them are designed for someone working their way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The skill will also help you find the proper pairing for your more casual snacks. In one demo, the skill recommends pairing nachos with a Sauvignon blanc or Zinfandel. (Note that the latter also goes well with Frito pie.)

You can also ask it to find you the perfect wine to drink with apple pie and pizza, in addition to the meats, cheeses, and other wine-pairing staples you might expect. However, if you ask it what to pair with hot dogs, it says “water,” which is an affront to hot dog connoisseurs everywhere.

There are a few other wine-pairing skills available for Alexa, including Wine Pairings, Wine Pairings (two different skills), and Wine Expert. But according to user reviews, Wine Finder is the standout, offering more and higher-quality suggestions than some of the other sommelier apps.

It’s free to enable here, so drink up.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Sam's Club Brings $.99 Polish Hot Dogs to All Stores After They're Cut From Costco's Food Courts
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Elsie Hui, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In early July, Costco angered many customers with the announcement that its beloved Polish hot dog was being removed from the food court menu. If you're someone who believes cheap meat tastes best when eaten in a bulk retail warehouse, Sam's Club has good news: The competing big box chain has responded to Costco's news by promising to roll out Polish hot dogs in all its stores later this month, Business Insider reports.

The Polish hot dog has long been a staple at Costco. Like Costco's classic hot dog, the Polish dog was part of the food court's famously affordable $1.50 hot dog and a soda package. The company says the item is being cut in favor of healthier offerings, like açai bowls, organic burgers, and plant-based protein salads.

The standard hot dog and the special deal will continue to be available in stores, but customers who prefer the meatier Polish dog aren't satisfied. Fans immediately took their gripes to the internet—there's even a petition on Change.org to "Bring Back the Polish Dog!" with more than 6500 signatures.

Now Sam's Clubs are looking to draw in some of those spurned customers. Its version of the Polish dog will be sold for just $.99 at all stores starting Monday, July 23. Until now, the chain's Polish hot dogs had only been available in about 200 Sam's Club cafés.

It's hard to imagine the Costco food court will lose too many of its loyal followers from the menu change. Polish hot dogs may be getting axed, but the popular rotisserie chicken and robot-prepared pizza will remain.

[h/t Business Insider]

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