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Airplane Food Tastes Bland Because Of White Noise  
User currently offlineThePointblank From Canada, joined Jan 2009, 1669 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 12213 times:

It appears some of the mystery as to why airplane food tastes so bland has been solved in this study.

Quote:
In the first study of its kind, researchers from the University of Manchester have found that high levels of background noise, such as the low engine roar we hear while flying, can diminish the sensitivity of our palates.

The basic gist of the study is that loud white noises negatively affects how we perceive sweetness and saltiness, but it increases how we perceive crunchiness. If the background noise is pleasant, it was found that they also enjoyed their food more. The next part of the study is to see how different kinds of music affect how we respond to food.

49 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAADC10 From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 2064 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 11946 times:

Perhaps the noise has an effect on the taste of the food but it is not necessarily the biggest problem. Since the food is pre-cooked and reheated, it is like eating leftovers at best. It is very difficult to have fresh clean flavors that way. Caterers are probably aware of this and add salt and spice to compensate.

[Edited 2010-10-17 14:21:41]

User currently offlinelightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12838 posts, RR: 100
Reply 2, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 11812 times:
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I'm not surprised at thsi finding. High noise levels have been proven to impact humans in many ways. Often in ways that are not perceived by the person in the high noise/vibration environment.

Note: Altitude has been proven to impact flavor.

Gases you want to taste in wine 'decant out.'
Water boils at a lower temperature and thus impacts the flavor of in flight coffee, tea, and anything microwaved or reheated.

So this is a muti-strike against airline food.

Quoting AADC10 (Reply 1):
Since the food is pre-cooked and reheated, it is like eating leftovers at best.

That too.  

So do people enjoy their food more on the A380?   

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlinemariner From New Zealand, joined Nov 2001, 24995 posts, RR: 85
Reply 3, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 11689 times:
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Oh. I thought it tasted bland because it is bland.

I thought airlines go out of their way to select food that offends the taste buds of as few people as possible.

Silly me.

mariner



aeternum nauta
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7688 posts, RR: 21
Reply 4, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 11646 times:
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The so-called conclusion of this study is totally spurious. Noise is but one variable of many when attempting to determine whether food tastes good on a plane, and if not, why not.


✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineikramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21471 posts, RR: 60
Reply 5, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 11568 times:

Quoting mariner (Reply 3):
I thought airlines go out of their way to select food that offends the taste buds of as few people as possible.

We agree here.

It's similar to the practice of grocery stores in the USA who have a deli counter with various salads and dishes. Bland, bland, bland. Because some people are on a low sodium diet, some people don't like spice, etc., etc. You can add seasoning to food when you get it home, you can't take it out...



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineenilria From Canada, joined Feb 2008, 7019 posts, RR: 13
Reply 6, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 11169 times:

Quoting ThePointblank (Thread starter):
The basic gist of the study is that loud white noises negatively affects how we perceive sweetness and saltiness, but it increases how we perceive crunchiness.
Quoting mariner (Reply 3):
I thought airlines go out of their way to select food that offends the taste buds of as few people as possible.
Quoting ikramerica (Reply 5):
We agree here.

There are two reasons and two reasons alone. Complaint letters and cost. They don't have complicated tastes because spices and such cost money so it's got to be as simple as possible in an era of cost cutting. Complaint letters flow from grandma every time a pickle hits their tongue; so over time the food was reduced to boring mush.


User currently offlineUSAirways787 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 290 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 10937 times:

I agree with some aspects although I can't remember the last time I actually had food on a plane. But as far as the crunchiness sounds I have found that to be very true. When someone wads up paper near me I cringe it's almost deafining.


"Pre departure walk around complete, all doors closed, ready for pushback"
User currently offlinecpd From Australia, joined Jun 2008, 4879 posts, RR: 38
Reply 8, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 10853 times:

All that I'm hearing from you Is White Noise (White Noise) White Noise (White Noise)...

Or so the song goes, at least in respect to the findings of this study!

I think these findings are quite dubious. And mostly, but not always, food tastes bland, because it is fairly bland most of the time.

That said, the Lindt dark chocolate based desert I had on a particular Qantas business class domestic flight a while back will go down in history as possibly the most wickedly delicious creation ever.  


User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3733 posts, RR: 11
Reply 9, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 10512 times:

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 4):
Noise is but one variable of many

Definitely.

Another reason airline food is bland is comes down to the very low humidity level in the air. Dry air diminishes your sense of smell, probably because it dries out your sensitive cells in the nose. As most of the flavors of what we eat are sensed through the nose, food becomes very bland. It's a bit like eating when you have a cold.



Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineukoverlander From United Kingdom, joined May 2010, 362 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 10435 times:

Airplane food tastes bland because it uses cheap ingredients and because is pre-cooked and reheated. No study required.

I wonder how much money was wasted on this study as with so many others? The finding is meaningless. It's at best a single factor amongst multiple highly obvious factors which most likely have a much more substantial impact on the taste of the food.

Let's get real here and think about what we already know. It's an expense the airlines don't want and even at the best of times where the meals are still served it is bargain basement quality. As we know in the majority of cases airlines have simply done away with it to avoid the cost completely.

It amazes me that studies like this one even take place. The other one I saw recently said people who drink a pint of water before they eat, eat less food, and can subsequently lose weight. You don't say Sherlock - you mean to say their stomach's are half full and they have less room for food? I wonder how many genius's it took to figure that one out and how many thousands of dollars they burned up in the process of their findings? I'm pretty sure an 11 year old could figure that out.


User currently offlineBaroque From Australia, joined Apr 2006, 15380 posts, RR: 59
Reply 11, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 10293 times:

Quoting mariner (Reply 3):
I thought airlines go out of their way to select food that offends the taste buds of as few people as possible.

That does not seem to stop QF loading up with curry, chili and garlic out of Singapore, but they usually have one meal without any of these, but this is commonly not so out of Jakarta. I suppose they figure that if leaving Indonesia, either you are Indonesian or have been able to tolerate said abominations so they might as well ply you with some more. Grrrr!

To Lightsaber, of course food tastes better in an A380, everything is better in an A380, did you not get the memo?


User currently offlinecalibansa333 From United States of America, joined Sep 2009, 208 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 10236 times:

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 4):
The so-called conclusion of this study is totally spurious.

How did you come to the conclusion that scientific information is Spurious? It was tested and proven. Nothing spurious about that...

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 4):
Noise is but one variable of many when attempting to determine whether food tastes good on a plane

I totally agree with you on that point. But they were only testing one variable which concluded that taste is, in fact, distorted due to noise aboard an airplane. If they really wanted to add in all of those variables, I am sure they would have conducted those tests inflight. Besides, I'm sure they were already aware of the fact that cabin pressurization also affects taste. They were just looking into another area that affects taste.

Cool Article, I'll definitely be listening to my favorite music the next time I indulge in a delicious inflight meal.  


User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5562 posts, RR: 6
Reply 13, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 10163 times:

Quoting calibansa333 (Reply 12):
which concluded that taste is, in fact, distorted due to noise aboard an airplane.

Baloney.

Your entire mood is affected by the noise on an airplane, or anywhere in life. They could've done a study on how enjoyable a movie was on an airplane compared to a theater, and found that it was enjoyed less in the air.

Airline food tastes bad for the same reason microwaved leftovers taste bad: dehydration and loss of certain aromatic compounds.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7688 posts, RR: 21
Reply 14, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 9800 times:
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Quoting calibansa333 (Reply 12):
How did you come to the conclusion that scientific information is Spurious? It was tested and proven. Nothing spurious about that...

I don't dispute the finding that noise influences the perception of taste - I consider it a spurious leap of logic to make the statement that food tastes bland in an aeroplane because of white noise, purely based on that one finding, when as I said (and you agree) there are a huge number of potential variables to influence the experience.

[Edited 2010-10-17 21:55:41]


✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlinecol From Malaysia, joined Nov 2003, 2093 posts, RR: 22
Reply 15, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 9629 times:

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 13):
They could've done a study on how enjoyable a movie was on an airplane compared to a theater, and found that it was enjoyed less in the air.

This is a good idea. SQ could do it for pax getting off the 380, then watching the same movie on a 77W. The 380 is like the theater, the 77W is like a drive in when the local hells angels in town.. 


User currently offlinesna752 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 127 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 8983 times:

Quoting ukoverlander (Reply 10):
Airplane food tastes bland because it uses cheap ingredients and because is pre-cooked and reheated. No study required.

  

If you took just sixty seconds to peruse this thread before leaving an ignorant comment like this...you might understand that altitude, humidity, and noise all have significant effects on taste.

Quoting lightsaber (Reply 2):
Water boils at a lower temperature and thus impacts the flavor of in flight coffee, tea, and anything microwaved or reheated.

     

Further, airplane food is not necessarily of poor quality. Many first class or premium meals are quite enjoyable -both in presentation and taste. To prove how baseless your assumptions are, try a bag of chips or a candy bar next time you fly. They won't taste like they do on the ground- and it's not because of poor quality.



Dare to think different.
User currently offlineMaverick623 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 5562 posts, RR: 6
Reply 17, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 8418 times:

Quoting sna752 (Reply 16):

If you took just sixty seconds to peruse this thread before leaving an ignorant comment like this.

Pot, Kettle...

Quoting sna752 (Reply 16):
noise all have significant effects on taste.

Black.

Noise has no significant effect on taste, compared with the other variables present.



"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
User currently offlineEBGARN From Sweden, joined Jan 2008, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 8181 times:

So, this is why I find a bloody mary pretty nice at FL350, but would never let it pass my lips on the ground? This is also true for some fellow travellers.


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User currently offlineGlareskin From Netherlands, joined Jun 2005, 1303 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 8114 times:

Of course their is an influence. And yes, taste and the overall experience on the A380 are better (and probably on the 787 with better humidity and pressure). And of course a noise-cancelling headphone helps. Plus it reduces jet lag.
Another German study proved that tomato juice taste better in flight hence airlines serve more tomato juice than other caterers.
The bland taste is general but with a few exeptions. My best food experiences are with TAP and Asiana.

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 13):
. They could've done a study on how enjoyable a movie was on an airplane compared to a theater

Hmmm... honestly I find the experience in flight better than in the theater.



There's still a long way to go before all the alliances deserve a star...
User currently offlineCXB77L From Australia, joined Feb 2009, 2596 posts, RR: 5
Reply 20, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 7997 times:
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Quoting Glareskin (Reply 19):
Of course their is an influence. And yes, taste and the overall experience on the A380 are better.

  

Are you sure you're not an Airbus salesperson?

Quoting AADC10 (Reply 1):
Since the food is pre-cooked and reheated, it is like eating leftovers at best. It is very difficult to have fresh clean flavors that way.

I think this is probably correct. Re-heated food never tastes as good as freshly cooked food, and I'd say that this is the main reason why airline food doesn't taste quite right. Although some airlines have installed coffee machines in premium galleys, and if I'm not mistaken, there's a skillet for cooking fresh eggs too. I do know that CX have a rice cooker on board in their F galleys.



Boeing 777 fanboy
User currently offlineZRH From Switzerland, joined Nov 1999, 5566 posts, RR: 36
Reply 21, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 7973 times:

There was also a study that the food tastes less salty and spicy because of the lower oxygen concentration in the air.

User currently offlineBasilFawlty From Netherlands, joined Jun 2009, 1313 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 7786 times:

Am I the only one who loves airplane food?   


'Every year donkeys and mules kill more people than plane crashes'
User currently offlinelvhgel From Puerto Rico, joined Apr 2007, 212 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 7576 times:

Quoting BasilFawlty (Reply 22):
m I the only one who loves airplane food?

Do you like Jet Fuel? I don't know, for me it leaves a kerosen aftertaste.            

Well seriously, food on an airliner have all against it, altitude, humidity, prep procedures, in some cases it's price, when you have to pay for it on board, and now we can add ... (drum roll) ... noise .


User currently offlinetrent1000 From Japan, joined Jan 2007, 543 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (3 years 9 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 7541 times:

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 4):
The so-called conclusion of this study is totally spurious.

Indeed! I read the article from another source and only 48 people were 'tested'. The concluding sentence said that much more research was needed.


25 Lufthansa : And BTW no complaints about QF loading up with spices, chilli and garic out of singapore! I for one happen to like it! Much more interesting then roas
26 Rising : It tastes bland because people think it's bland. Perception is reality.
27 malaysia : all foods that were raw were cooked then (meats) cooled the night before, then put in cold foods for presentation and setting up the carts, then put o
28 Post contains images lightsaber : Memo? What memo? Did it come with a fine whine... er... wine? I'm amused by the implications. The 'smell test' implies that disturbing 'white noise'
29 Halaka : Does anyone who is casting off these results as "spurious" have anything to offer in terms of specific flaws in the execution of this study? It's easy
30 RussianJet : Yes - the fact that numerous other studies claim to reveal other factors that influence the taste of food during flight, and the fact that it will de
31 ikramerica : You need to visit a gold class theater. We have one in town. Sure it's $22 of peak, but you get a recliner, in seat alcohol and food service, and a t
32 Post contains images TheCommodore : Without questioning the validity of the research, does anybody know who commissioned the research? Inevitably, such stories emanate from media release
33 TheCommodore : Came to this post having read an article in The Australian, which did not mention Unilever had sponsored the research. The article lined at the top of
34 Baroque : Yes it did, and it also came with a well ripened Brie. Interesting thing is that QF used to serve soft cheeses but now seem restricted in Y and Premi
35 cpd : Myth busted. Seat 3A (737-800) and Seat 2B (737-400) and then Seat 1B (737-800 VH-VXB), followed by seat 3A (VH-OGV) made no difference to my percept
36 Baroque : There you go and all those are CFM so we cannot blame the engines. I have been searching for the green font for my reply, but it seems to have gone.
37 cpd : VH-OGV is GE CF6-80C2B6 powered. But pleasant none the less. The 737-400 however is dreadful, quite noisy and with lousy seats too. They are just lik
38 XaraB : By running the test on the ground, with an artificial white noise applied, you remove all dependency on other factors known to inhibit taste on plane
39 RussianJet : Yes, and?? So that shows taste can be affected by white noise. On the ground. With no other variables introduced by flying. It does still not justify
40 trent1000 : 48 subjects is not a large enough sample to support the external validity of the experiment. Would you take a drug 'tested' on only 48 volunteers? Do
41 XaraB : No, it doesn't entirely. But replace "white noise" with "low pressure", "low humidity", "less oxygen", and the sentence is equally misleading. But no
42 Post contains images MadameConcorde : I have eaten some really yummy food flying with Singapore Airlines in Economy and this is true with Austrian Airlines as well. It really tasted good
43 Glareskin : [quote=CXB77L,reply=20]Quoting Glareskin (Reply 19): Of course their is an influence. And yes, taste and the overall experience on the A380 are better
44 Post contains links Part147 : Airline food taste study by Lufthansa ... http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6114748,00.html ... comes to a slightly different conclusion... That fo
45 CXB77L : If you're relying on the study quoted in the article where only 48 subjects were tested, I'm sorry, but that doesn't prove anything conclusively at a
46 sna752 : Then apparently I don't understand... the OP said that the study suggests: I didn't say it only negatively affects taste... just that it does. Number
47 Baroque : Aha, you got me there, I do have to confess to never having fully memorised the reg #s. So a 767 in the mix assuming that B did not show the flexibil
48 ha763 : I just did an economy meal sampling for my airline on Monday. Guess what, the food was bland. The only thing that had a somewhat strong taste was the
49 pliersinsight : Ha, just WAIT until you eat aboard a 787. You'll swear the bag of pretzels were just made by Jacques Pépin himself and the Coke was teleported throu
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