Soup doesn't speak for itself: creative messaging influences taste perception

Hilary M. Maich, The College of Wooster


If you have watched Top Chef or have been to a fancy restaurant, the descriptions of the menu items have become particularly creative. The present study explores the influence of creative food descriptions on taste perception. Participants were presented with two different food items: a standard plain item, Barilla pasta noodles, and a test item, a chilled carrot-coconut ginger soup with shiitake bacon. The soup recipe was designed by a past competitor from Top Chef, Casey Thompson and was prepared for this study by a local chef. Participants tasted each food item while blindfolded and made a magnitude estimate of the soup (test stimulus) in comparison to the plain pasta noodles. Ninety-two participants were split among the three soup description conditions: no description, plain description, and creative description. Food description had a significant impact on taste perception.