For grades 3-12
Does what you see influence what you taste? Find out here. Get four different flavored sodas (fruity ones such as lemon, grape, cherry, etc.). These sodas should also be different colors. Also get one unflavored, clear soda (such as, club soda or seltzer water). Add a few drops of food coloring to the unflavored, clear soda (orange works well). This will make it LOOK like orange soda, but of course, it will NOT have any taste. Pour the five drinks into different cups for taste testers. Ask people to tell you what each drink tastes like.
How many people said your unflavored drink was "Orange"?
Food companies add color to food to influence what it tastes like. People like to see foods in colors that they expect.
- 4 different flavored sodas, 1 unflavored, clear soda
- Food Color
For grades 3-12
In this experiment, use jelly beans instead of soda. For each subject you test, you will need pairs of jelly beans. For example, get 2 cherry jelly beans, 2 lime jelly beans, 2 lemon jelly beans and 2 orange jelly beans. Each jelly bean flavor has its own unique color: red for cherry, green for lime, yellow for lemon and orange for orange. Divide the jelly beans into two groups: each group should have one of each flavor.
Label small containers or napkins with the numbers 1 through 4. Place the jelly beans from the first group into a container or on a napkin - one jelly bean into each container or on each napkin. Wrap the jelly beans in the second group in foil or place them in a cup so that your subjects cannot see them. Label these cups with the numbers 1 through 4. Make sure that the flavors of the second group have different numbers than the flavors in the first group.
Now you are ready to start the experiment. If you want, you can tell your subject the names of the flavors that they will be tested. In other words, you can say, "The jelly beans you taste will be either cherry, orange, lime or lemon." Tell your subject to look at the jelly bean in container #1 of the first group and then taste the jelly bean. After they have tasted the jelly bean, tell your subject to write down its flavor. Do the same thing with jelly beans #2-#4.
The next part of the experiment is a bit more difficult. You must keep the color of the jelly beans in group 2 hidden from your subjects. You can blindfold your subjects or have them close their eyes while they taste the jelly beans. Keep track of the flavors that your subjects say each jelly bean tastes like. You can even tell your subjects that the flavors they will taste will be the same as before.
What are the results? Did you subjects make any mistakes when they could not see the color of the jelly bean? If they did, what was the most common mistake? What would happen if you used an unusual flavor? What would happen if you found a jelly bean with an abnormal color...for example a red-colored lemon-flavor jelly bean?
- At least 4 different flavored jelly beans (two of each flavor for each subject)
- Cups or napkins
- Pen (to label cups and napkins)
Summary of published experiments on the influence of sight on the taste of drinks and food.