London: Hot chocolate tastes better when served in an orange or cream coloured cup, a new study has found.
According to researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford, human senses perceive food in a different way depending on the characteristics of the container from which we eat and drink.
The study results, published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, demonstrate that the flavour of chocolate served in orange or cream coloured cups was better for the tasting volunteers.
"The colour of the container where food and drink are served can enhance some attributes like taste and aroma," Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, researcher at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain) was quoted as saying by the Science Daily.
The researchers Fiszman and Charles Spence from Oxford University, conducted an experiment in which 57 participants had to evaluate samples of hot chocolate served in four different types of plastic cup. The cups were of the same size but of different colours: white, cream, red and orange with white on the inside.
The sweetness and the aroma where hardly influenced by the colour of the cup, despite the participants mentioning that the chocolate was slightly sweeter and more aromatic in a cream coloured cup.
"There is no fixed rule stating that flavour and aroma are enhanced in a cup of a certain colour or shade," Piqueras-Fiszman said.
"In reality this varies depending on the type of food, but the truth is that, as this effect occurs, more attention should be paid to the colour of the container as it has more potential than one could imagine."
These results are relevant for scientists interested in understanding how the brain integrates visual information not just from the food itself but from the receptacle or container from which it is consumed.
Also, the study could encourage chefs, catering professionals and even the packaging industry to think more about the colour of crockery and packaging.
"It is a case of experimenting to understand how the container itself affects the perceptions that the consumers have on the product," the researchers said.
Previously, it has been demonstrated that a strawberry mousse appears to be sweeter and more intense on a white plate compared to a black plate.
And as for coffee, the majority of those surveyed associated brown packaging to a stronger flavour and aroma, whereas reds seem to accentuate this sensation and blues and yellows make the drink seems softer.