How deep are color-taste associations?

Our take: Study reveals what consumers expect when they see a food affects the taste of the item... | -----------------

A new study from Penn State confirms longstanding research into the relationship between color and taste. What consumers see when they eat matters as much — if not more— than what they taste.

Researchers gave participants different colors of liquid with different tastes — including bitter, sweet, savory and sour.

Participants then tried clear liquids with the same taste profiles, and they were asked to associate them with a color.

Researchers found these associations are easy to learn, and ones that are currently common — like red for sweet or yellow for sour — may not be set in stone.

The strong associations between color and flavor are well established in the scientific community.

Research on the subject dates back to the 1970s. For example, consumers expect yellow foods to be sour or citrusy.

Branding, packaging, and color quality of the product itself play a big part in creating and maintaining expectations.

Food brands have long understood this and worked to establish standards. Federal regulations grade the color of orange juice.

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