Celebrating Flavor

Want to really enjoy your next meal? Make it an occasion!

Researchers have found that turning meals into special moments –by singing “Happy Birthday”—or partaking in some other significant pre-dining ritual enhances can actually enhance the flavor of what’s being consumed.

A new collection of studies published in the journal Psychological Sciences suggests that engaging in any kind of ritual (even seemingly small ones) seems to enhance the taste sensation and make food more appealing.

For example, researchers found that chocolate eaters (who were asked to perform a simple ritual before consuming their candy) rated its taste much higher (and were willing to pay more for it) than those who were allowed to eat it without any special routine attached to its consumption. Researchers found the same reaction when they worked with carrots.

Beyond encouraging people to perform little rituals—perhaps even saying grace or having a moment of reflection– to enjoy their meals more, psychologists involved in the research noted that their research may have implications in other areas, such as pain management and even mood enhancement for people suffering from depression.