A group of food scientists from Sao Paulo recently investigated color perception in food, particularly how people perceive chocolate would taste based on its color. The University of Campinas group was led by Luri Baptista.
The study was published in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. Involved in the study were over 400 participants aged between 18 and 60 and were equally split between France and Brazil.
Chocolates packaged in yellow and pink are sweet.
Findings included that chocolates in black wrappers give consumers the perception that they will taste bitter. Yellow and pink packaging, on the other hand, is associated with sweet tastes. Furthermore, participants believed that they would enjoy milk chocolate on black wrappers than they would enjoy dark chocolate.
Baptista said that the study has proven that it is the color of the product that sets expectations and the color of the packaging, tableware, and environment. MAilOnline attributes this to the brain’s ability to immediately look for cues to use and compare a product to past experiences. He adds that this process builds expectations that affect sensory perception, neural activation, and even behavioral response.
The researchers showed each participant a picture of two dark chocolate and two milk chocolate bars in specific color packaging: blue, yellow, black, brown, green, pink, and red. They were then asked to rate how they thought the chocolates would taste.
Their findings revealed that most participants expected the dark and milk chocolates to taste bitter or at least the least sweet when in black packaging. The opposite was true for the chocolates that were wrapped in pink and yellow.
The respondents also preferred milk chocolates when it came to black wrappers. Dark chocolate in a black wrapping was therefore perceived to be the most bitter.
Future studies on color perception
It is surprising that despite having different chocolate habits, both the respondents from Brazil and France had almost similar perceptions of color. Researchers are now planning to investigate whether the color of chocolate wrappers has any other effect on consumer perception apart from how they expect it to taste.