Science Project Details:

Beverage coloring and taste

Difficulty: Intermediate 5
Cost ($): 30
Time required:
1 day to prepare, 1 hour for science fair project
Availability of materials:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Basic safety requirements

Abstract

This science fair project was done to ascertain if people can really differentiate the taste of a beverage independent of its color. The science project experiment involved soda water and lime juice mixed with colored food dye.

Hypothesis

Most people’s perception of taste will be based on the color of the beverage.

Background

Color and taste
 

The color of a beverage or food will normally affect a person’s perception of how it will taste. When we look at the color of a drink, our mind will immediately recall our past experiences of how a drink of similar color had tasted. We will then expect the same or similar taste in the beverage that is placed in front of us.

Researchers have found that the color has more influence on how we think a drink or food will taste compared to the brand name or price. When science fair projects were done by giving participants 2 cups of the same juice, but one cup with an altered color, they were able to identify taste differences that really did not exist. When the same test was repeated using one cup with additional sugar added, they were not able to notice much difference in the taste.

Most of the time, our expectation of the taste is based on what we have consumed in the past, or perhaps what we have seen someone else consume, or due to the advertisements that we see on television and billboards. These experiences will gradually program our minds to discriminate and hold certain expectations.

Scientific Terms

Perception, taste, mind

Materials

The materials required for the science fair project:
- 20 participants –  boys and girls of various ages
- 80 plastic cups
- 3 types of food coloring – red, orange, purple
- 4 jugs
- 1 kg sugar
- 4 bottles of lime juice
- 4 bottles of soda water
- 1 refrigerator
- 20 forms to fill
- 1 black marker pen

Procedure

1. For this science fair project, the independent variable is the coloring of the beverage. The dependent variable is the choice made by the participants in selecting the flavor of the beverage. This is determined by gathering the data from the forms distributed to the participants. The constants (control variables) are the size of the plastic cups, the mixing ratio of soda water and lime juice, the amount of sugar added and the amount of beverage served.

2. Equal amounts of soda water and lime juice and the same servings of sugar  are  added and mixed into all 4 jugs. A few drops of red food coloring is added to the first jug until a tempting red color is obtained. Orange food coloring is added to the secondjug and purple food coloring is added to the third jug is added with purple food coloring. The fourth jug will remain clear without any coloring. The jugs are kept in a refrigerator overnight.

3. A form is created for the participants to fill in their choice of flavor for each drink. An example is given in Table 1 below.

4. On the second day of the experiment, the 4 jugs of beverage are brought out of the refrigerator for testing. Each type of drink is poured into 20 paper cups. The 20 participants are  each  given 4 cups containing the different colored drinks and a form to fill in their choice.

Table 1



Flavor of beverage


Please tick the flavor of the beverage


Red


Orange


Purple


Clear


Strawberry
       


Lime
       


Orange
       


Grape
       


5. After the participants have completed  the forms, the results are collected for analysis and the choices tallied and recorded in the table below.

Observation

The results show that most of the participants had selected the flavors of the drinks based on the color.

Flavor of beverage

Choice made by 20 participants on flavor of the beverage

Red

Orange

Purple

Clear

Strawberry

17

0

0

0

Lime

1

4

2

17

Orange

2

16

2

3

Grape

0

0

16

0

 

The chart below represents the results of our science project.

beverage coloring science fair project

Conclusion

The hypothesis that most people’s perception of taste will be based on the color of the beverage, is proven to be true.

Food and beverage manufacturers are fully aware that the color of the food will influence a consumer's perception of taste. This is the reason why they put in a lot of effort to find the perfect color and texture for their food products.

Also consider

This science fair project may be repeated, this time, using a bigger group of people to do the sampling.

Modify the science project experiment, using different types of juice but all of them with the same colored food dye.

References

More Than Meets the Tongue: Color of a Drink Can Fool the Taste Buds into Thinking It Is Sweeter: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070212182136.htm

The Influence of Color on Taste Perception : http://itotd.com/articles/629/the-influence-of-color-on-taste-perception/

Beverage colour affects taste perception, reveals new research: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Financial-Industry/Beverage-color-affects-taste-perception-reveals-new-research

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