Diners Eat More If Their Servers Are Overweight

January 11, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Eric W. Dolan wrote about an interesting psychological study:

  • A study found that diners were four times more likely to order dessert if their server had a BMI over 25 – making them overweight.
  • They were also 17.65% more likely to order alcohol.
  • This seems to be because the waiter or waitress sets the social norm.
  • It also means that chains like Hooters that rely on their wait staff’s sex appeal may actually be losing money by having slim servers.

Read other details about the study here.

Source: PsyPost

Kit Kat In Japan

January 4, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Sienna Hill took a look at the weird world of Kit Kat in Japan:

  • Kit Kats in Japan come in flavours unheard of in the west: Wasabi, Sweet Potato, Soya Sauce, and 300 others.
  • The tradition of exotic flavours began when a famous Japanese chocolatier created a passion fruit Kit Kat that was wildly popular.
  • The chocolate wafers have become a cultural institution and are given as gifts to colleagues and students.
  • Their popularity is in part because Kit Kat sounds like the Japanese “kitto katsu” which translates to “surely you will win”.
  • Brand managers have also been creative in their marketing by setting up a promotion where a bar of the chocolate could double as a train ticket.

Read more about the flavours that you can get and the stories behind them here.

Source: First We Feast

How To Taste Hack Your Food

December 25, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Nicola Twilley wrote about how our senses can affect the taste of what we eat, a topic that Centives has covered before.

  • According to one researcher, half of all taste is determined by vision, sound, and touch.
  • Chips that make a high pitched crunch are perceived as being fresher than those that make a soft crunch.
  • Strawberry mousse tastes 10% sweeter if served in a white container rather than a black one.
  • Coffee tastes twice as intense, but two thirds as sweet, if served in a white mug rather than a glass one.
  • Adding 2.5 ounces to the weight of plastic yogurt containers makes the eater feel 25% more filled.
  • Toffee will taste 10% more bitter if eaten while listening to low-pitched music.
  • Juice boxes with labels that have concave lines – that look like a smile – sell better than those with convex labels – which look like frowns.
  • Red containers are associated with sweetness. Popcorn served in red buckets can make people think that salty popcorn is sweet.
  • Blue containers make things taste saltier.
  • Cadbury’s Koko milk truffles might have failed because the hard “k” sound makes products taste bitter. A soft “b” sound can make things taste sweeter.
  • Cheesecake served on a round plate tastes sweeter than that served from a square one.

Read more about the fascinating reasons why some of these associations hold true, how industries from restaurants, to hospitals, to carmakers are adapting the findings, and other fascinating details here.

Read our ongoing series on Foodonomics here.

Source: The New Yorker

Via: Marginal Revolution

Latte Art Changes The Taste Of Coffee

May 20, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

While latte artists are able to do some incredible things, baristahustler wrote about how for some it may detract from the coffee drinking experience:

  • Latte art normally has a sense of symmetry which usually leads to a ring of crema around the edge of the cup.
  • When people first take a sip of this they’ll get a strong taste of bitter coffee.
  • This will desensitize the palate, and make the rest of the drink seem bland.
  • In contrast if there’s no latte art and the crema is mixed in with the rest of the coffee, the flavor will be spread out and make the overall drink seem richer.
  • Of course having latte art may improve the coffee drinking experience overall due to the concoction’s visual appeal.

Read more here.

Source: The Barista Hustle

Chili’s Is Gunning For The Burger Selfie Demographic

May 15, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Nick Turner and Lindsey Rupp wrote about the burger chain Chili’s efforts to appeal to social customers:

  • Chili’s is trying to change the presentation of its food to make it look more attractive on Instagram
  • The burgers now sit higher, and buns with more visual appeal are used.
  • French fires are served in a photo friendly container.
  • The chain has also installed digital terminals at all its tables so that customers can instantly request refills or pay bills.
  • It is also encouraging customers to do things such as pay through tablet devices.

Read more about Chili’s initiatives here.

Source: Bloomberg

How Taste Is Affected By The Other Senses

May 3, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Bianca Bosker looked at how taste is affected by the human body’s other senses:

  • Several kitchens that explore “multisensory gastronomy” have sprung up.
  • One dish comes with textured cubes. As patrons are chewing they stroke rough, fuzzy, and gritty surfaces, changing the taste of what they’re eating.
  • Other dishes are served as scents such as saffron or a bacon perfume are sprayed into the air.
  • Music pairings enhance flavours. Playing an electronic composition with clanging metal sounds enhances the crackling of a Pop Rocks like candy dessert.
  • And then there’s colour. Wine tried in rooms bathed in green light taste fresher.
  • It’s not just novelty restaurants taking advantage of these associations in the human mind: British Airways has announced “sonic seasoning” – a playlist that improves the taste of airline food.
  • Chefs could also use this in the future to make food healthier. They could reduce the amount of fat and sugar in the food without changing its taste by altering how the food is presented.

The full article goes into the science behind the phenomenon, mentions how the principles of Gestalt Psychology can be used, and provides other fascinating examples of uniquely presented foods. You should read it here.

Source: The New Yorker

Psychological Menu Tricks

April 29, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

In the latest edition to our ongoing series on restaurant menu secrets, Jessica Hullinger wrote about some of the psychological tricks that restaurants use to boost sales:

  • Customers get uncomfortable if they’re presented with too many choices. The golden number of options per category of food (appetizers, entrées etc.) seems to be about seven.
  • Pictures boost sales of menu items by as much as 70%.
  • However pictures also lower the perceived quality of the food – which is why high end restaurants rarely have photos on their menus.
  • The price “$12.00” on a menu is far less appealing than simply “12”.
  • Menus may often open with an expensive item – say a $100 lobster – to make a $70 item later on in the menu seem affordable.
  • The most profitable items are strategically placed in the top right corner of the menu, since that’s where people look first.
  • Profitable items might also be put in a box on their own to draw attention to it.
  • Longer descriptions of food boost sales, in part because patrons think they’re getting more for their money.

Read about the colour schemes that menus use, the power of nostalgia, and more over here.

Source: Mental Floss

The Pizza Lobby

April 14, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Andrew Martin reported on a political lobbying group whose aim is to ensure that you get more pizza:

  • Fresh and frozen pizza makers have their own individual lobby groups…and they don’t coordinate or cooperate at all.
  • This is likely because chains such as Domino’s like to call the makers of frozen pizzas “the root of all evil”.
  • The fresh pizza lobby argues though that they don’t just represent big chains like Domino’s, but instead all the little small business pizzerias.
  • Chains such as McDonald’s and Olive Garden have caved and done things like offer calorie counts on menus or offer healthy sides.
  • Not the pizza lobby. They argue that things like calorie counts are unfair because pizzas are endlessly customizable.
  • They further note that calorie counts for an entire pie could be misleading if people only intend to have a slice or two.
  • And anyway most people just call to get their pizza delivered, without a menu in sight.
  • Republicans seem to be more sympathetic to these arguments than democrats.
  • In fact pizza chains overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney for President in 2012 – even though the candidate was rumoured to pull the cheese off his pizza before eating it.

Read about the battle to get pizza to qualify as a vegetable, the future of the pizza lobby, and more over here.

Source: Bloomberg

Why A Tire Company Tells Us Which Restaurants To Go To

March 23, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

The Michelin guide to restaurants has been published for over a century and can make or break the reputation of a restaurant. Yet Michelin, the company, is mostly known for selling tires. MessyNessy explained how a tire manufacture became the arbiter of restaurant quality:

  • When the first guide was published, in 1900, the entire country of France only had 3,000 cars on the road.
  • To increase demand for cars, and thus the company’s tires, Michelin executives needed to give people a reason to want to buy a car to get around.
  • Enter the first Michelin guide which was given away for free and provided tourist tips, maps, and, of course, instructions for changing tires.
  • After the First World War, in the 1920s, the company began to charge for the guide, as they were afraid that by giving it away for free, they were suggesting that the insights it contained weren’t worth much.
  • The restaurant section of it was a particular success and the company began recruiting anonymous inspectors to evaluate eateries.
  • In 1926 the guide started awarding individual stars to the best restaurants.
  • Then in the 1930s it moved to a three star system to communicate the relative quality of restaurants.
  • Now the guide’s history and its prestige keep the guide going – although the company still just mostly sells tires.

Read about the guide, what it used to look like in the past, how it was advertized, where it spread, and more over here.

Source: Messy Nessy Chic

Whatever Happened To Kellogg’s Breakfast Cereals?

March 15, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Chances are that you grew up eating Tony the Tiger’s Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, or one of the other cereals that Kellogg’s made. Sales, however, have been declining for a while now. Why?

  • In the 18th century breakfast was composed of little more than leftover’s from the previous day.
  • Then Will K. Kellogg, the founder of Kellogg’s, helped create corn flakes and turn cereal into a breakfast food.
  • The company really took off during the baby boom era when mothers appreciated the convenience of putting out a bowl of cereal for their husbands and children before they left the home.
  • Now both partners in a marriage are usually working and they prefer the even greater convenience of picking up breakfast on the way to work.
  • Those who stay at home take the time to cook more elaborate breakfasts such as eggs, oatmeal, and pancakes.
  • There’s a rising dislike of carbohydrates in America – a problem for a company whose cereals are made mainly from corn, oats, or rice.

Read more about the company, its history, its attempts to solve the problem, what it might do next, and why it has plenty of time to figure things out over here.

Source: Bloomberg