Lightweight plastic spoons make food taste yummier. That's the conclusion of a study published in the journal Flavour that set out to determine if the spoon you use to eat your yogurt makes a difference in how it tastes.
It turns out the answer is yes.
After sampling yogurt with several different spoons, the 35 participants in the Oxford University study voted the yogurt eaten from a lightweight plastic spoon as creamier and more expensive tasting compared to the same yogurt eaten from a heavier plastic spoon.
In previous studies the Oxford team found that people prefer food eaten with a heavier silver spoon and in general prefer heavier plates, cups and even wine bottles. However, in this case, subjects were expecting the plastic spoons to feel light.
"A spoon that looks light but is heavy as in our most recent study is bad, not because of the weight but likely because of the confounded expectation," Charles Spence, one of the lead researchers explained.
The study also found that yogurt tasted sweeter when eaten off a light-colored spoon but not so sweet when eaten off a black spoon. When pink yogurt was served on a blue spoon, subjects said it tasted saltier and less sweet than when it was served on a white spoon, possibly because they found the color contrast less pleasing.
These findings reveal a lot more about the complexity of taste perception and food enjoyment than just spoon preference, the researchers say. Diners think their taste buds fancy a particular food but in reality, everything from the color of a plate to overhead lighting to background music exerts an influence over the eating experience.
Spence said he believes this type of information can be used to help people lose weight.
For example, earlier studies done by the oxford team found that dessert served on a white plate tastes 10 percent sweeter than the exact same treat served on black plate.
Research done by the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University discovered that people eat 16 percent more cereal when they use a larger bowl compared to a smaller bowl. Even worse, they believe they're eating 7 percent less. And another study by the Cornell lab found that people given short wide glasses poured 76 percent more soda than those who had randomly been given tall slender glasses. They believed, however, that they had poured less.