How Does the intensity of Food color affect the Perceived Sweetness of Food

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Author: Janice VanCleave

HowDoes Color Intensity Affect the Perceived Sweetness of Food?

Category: Biology—Zoology—Behavior

Project Idea by: Amanda Accardi and Jennifer Phelan

You experience various tastes because of taste buds, which are special cells on your tongue and on the roof and the back of your mouth. Most of your taste buds are located on the tip, sides, and back of your tongue. While you have thousands of taste buds, they detect four main tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Although all of the taste buds can detect more than one taste, each is best at detecting one of the primary tastes.

The taste buds for sweet are more concentrated on the tip of your tongue, for salt and sour along the sides, and for bitter at the back. Even though the different types of taste buds are more concentrated in some areas, there is quite a bit of overlap of the taste areas and much variation from one person to the next. The flavors of food that you eat are a combination of the four tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.

Your tongue is also sensitive to touch, cold, heat, and pain. Whether the food is wet or dry, soft or hard, smooth or lumpy, hot or cold makes a difference in how its taste is perceived. In addition, a food's taste depends on how it smells and looks. A project question might be, "How does color intensity affect the perceived sweetness of food?"

HowDoes Color Intensity Affect the Perceived Sweetness of Food?

Clues for Your Investigation

Prepare cherry-flavored drinks that differ only in the amount of red food coloring. Ask a group of the same age range and gender to taste the drinks and determine which tastes the sweetest. After tasting one drink, each tester should drink a small amount of water to rinse the previous drink out of his or her mouth. Compare the results to determine what effect, if any, the amount of coloring has on the perceived flavor intensity.

Independent Variable: Color intensity

Dependent Variable: Sweetness of taste

Controlled Variables: Sweetness of each drink color, age of testers, gender of testers, testing conditions

Control: Drink with no sweetener

Other Questions to Explore

  1. What effect, if any, does color have on the acceptability of a drink (how much people liked the drink)?
  2. Would the age of the testing group affect the results?
  3. Would the gender of the testing group affect the results?
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