Black chocolate packaging leads consumers to believe that confectionery tastes more bitter, while yellow and pink raise expectations of sweetness, according to a study.
Researchers from Brazil asked 420 people to predict the taste qualities of milk plates and dark chocolate presented in different colored packaging.
They also found that because of the black packaging, people expect to enjoy milk chocolate more – but the opposite was true for dark chocolate.
Black chocolate packaging leads consumers to believe that confectionery tastes more bitter, while yellow and pink raise expectations of sweetness, a study found (archive image)
The study was carried out by food scientist Iuri Baptista from the University of Campinas in São Paulo and his colleagues.
“Research has shown that not only the color of the product itself, but also the colors of the dishes, packaging and surroundings can influence expectations and perceptions of a food or drink,” the team wrote in their paper.
“It does this because, when consumers see a product like a chocolate bar, they immediately look for clues that match previous experience and try to foresee what it is and what properties it has.”
“This process creates expectations that have been shown to affect behavioral response, sensory perception, and neural activation.”
To study how this phenomenon is changing our expectations of chocolates, Baptista and colleagues surveyed 420 people ages 18 to 60, half of whom lived in Brazil while the rest were from France.
Each participant was shown a photo of two milk chocolate bars and two dark chocolate bars, each of which came in a specific color packaging – either black, blue, brown, green, red, pink, or yellow.
They were then asked to rate various expected properties of the chocolate, including expected bitterness or sweetness, on a nine-point scale.
Each participant was shown a photo of two milk chocolate bars and two dark chocolate bars, each packaged in a specific color – either black, blue, brown, green, red, pink, or yellow, as shown above
On average, respondents said they expected both dark and milk chocolates to be the most bitter and the least sweet when wrapped in black packaging.
In contrast, of the seven colors tested, yellow and pink made the chocolates taste the sweetest and the least bitter.
Oddly enough, the researchers also found that people like milk chocolate most when it comes in black packaging – but the same color packaging had exactly the opposite effect on dark chocolate.
No real difference was found between subjects from Brazil and France, which surprised the team, given the country’s different chocolate habits, as the average French person ate more than twice as much and preferred a higher cocoa content.
In contrast, of the seven colors tested, yellow and pink made the chocolates taste the sweetest and the least bitter. Pictured: a yellowish box of matchmakers
After completing the first study, the researchers are now planning to investigate whether wrapping pralines in different-colored packaging also affects the taste of the chocolate – and not just the expected one.
“The effects of context color on food need further study,” the team wrote.
This will enable us “to understand how industries, artisans, chefs, baristas, mixologists, packaging designers, food bloggers and photographers can thus influence consumer expectations of their products and services”.
The full results of the study were published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science.
Oddly enough, the researchers also found that people like milk chocolate most when it comes in black packaging – but the same color had the opposite effect on dark chocolate
IS CHOCOLATE GOOD FOR YOU?
Chocolate is arguably the nation’s most popular nutritional vice, but much research over the years has shown it could actually be good for us.
With more than 300 chemicals in chocolate, scientists are studying a whole host of health benefits associated with the food.
Harvard University researchers studied 8,000 men over the age of 65 and found that those who ate modest amounts of chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who didn’t.
Dr. Neil Martin of Middlesex University’s Cognitive and Research Center exposed people to different smells and measured their brain activity.
The results showed that olfactory receptors in the nasal passages reacted so strongly to the chemical mixture in chocolate that people reached an emotional climax.
A 100 g bar of dark chocolate contains 2.4 mg iron and 90 mg magnesium, about a third of the recommended daily amount.
White chocolate, on the other hand, contains no cocoa solids, only cocoa butter, and is relatively high in fat. A 100 g white Toblerone bar has a whopping 540 calories and 30.7 g fat.
Despite the sugar content, chocolate is considered by dentists to be less harmful to teeth than many other sweets, as it tends to be chewed quickly and not sucked in.
There are also naturally occurring tannins in chocolate that inhibit the growth of dental plaque.
And all chocolate is known to contain a substance called phenylethamine (PEA), which is naturally produced by the brain and is believed to increase the mood-boosting chemicals serotonin and endorphins.
The more PEA you eat, the more in love and aroused you theoretically feel. This is why chocolate has gained a reputation as an aphrodisiac.
A TV series on the Food Network called Food: Fact or Fiction? studies how eating chocolate affects the brain.
Researchers found that sharing chocolate with a loved one increased oxytocin levels.
This popular candy also stimulates theobromine and phenylethylamine.
Phenylethylamine stimulates the release of B-endorphin, which promotes the production of dopamine and norepinephrine.
These chemicals flood your system when you are feeling loving.
Theobromine is chemically similar to caffeine and, like its chemical cousin, stimulates the central nervous system and has a mood-enhancing effect.