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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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Job Alert: The UK Needs a Chicken Nugget Taste-Tester

Do you like highly-processed chicken molded into mushy, breaded bites? Are you willing to relocate to England? Can your palate distinguish a savory nugget from a mediocre one? Your dream job awaits, AJC.com reports.

British retail chain B&M recently posted a job listing calling for a "chicken nugget connoisseur" to help the company get feedback on their new line of frozen food products. The chosen applicant—or applicants—will get a monthly voucher worth £25 ($34) to spend on frozen goods. Job duties consist of eating nuggets and other items and then providing B&M feedback.

The post describes the position as "temporary," so it's unlikely there's opportunity for advancement. If you care to apply, B&M will accept a paragraph describing yourself and why you’d be good for the job—though if you actually have a CV full of previous nugget-related positions, we're confident they'd love to see it.

[h/t AJC.com]

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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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