Evolution of the senses: Scientists uncover how sound affects chocolate eating

Ever wondered what a panda thinks as it hears the satisfying snap of bamboo between its teeth? Or whether a lion enjoys its meat more once it’s heard the hearty crunch of bones cracking?

Whilst we don’t yet know the full role audition—that is, noise—plays in the Animal Kingdom’s traditional tasting experience, we’ve at least got an interesting insight via one of the most modern of humankind’s foodstuffs: chocolate.

A new report—commissioned by chocolate giant Cadbury Dairy Milk and conducted by one of the country’s top neuroscience agencies, Mindlab—found that amplitude, frequency, volume and pitch are amongst the key factors that can significantly enhance or negatively affect the perception of human taste.

Mindlab Managing Director Duncan Smith explains: ‘Multiple studies show that music and taste are intrinsically linked. Just as you’d pair wine with certain food, you should pair certain sounds with specific food to enhance the taste and experience.’

The research group discovered the following combinations of sound and texture received the most positive response with its human test subjects (quite rightly, no animal testing is allowed as standard): low pitch complements nutty flavours; high pitched music complements crunchy texture; steady rhythm complements smooth texture; mellow sounds complements soft spongy textures, whilst up-tempo sounds complements surprising textures that pop and crackle.

What we concluded here at Love Nature HQ was that the animals most likely to benefit from this research were the following: bass-banging grey squirrels, piccolo-playing owls, house-music honeybees, mushroom-eating mice and techno-tapping tadpole eaters.

We’re being flippant, of course, but it’s an interesting development to note how much sound can affect the concept of taste. Something to bear in mind next time your moggie’s being moody about what they munch on. 

Cadburys have teamed up with The London Contemporary Orchestra to create a Spotify Album to compliment their range of chocolates. It can be streamed on Spotify here: http://cadburyflavourites.co.uk/