Finagling My Brain into Eating Capsicum
Fun Fact: I really don’t like capsicum
Fun Fact #2: Scientists think they can make capsicum more palatable to me by changing the colour and brightness of light I am eating capsicum under.
… wait what?
What does colour have to do with taste?
Have you ever eaten a red velvet cake and just couldn’t place the flavour? There was a time when I didn’t know what the ingredients were, and so genuinely thought red velvet was an actual flavour. (SPOILERS: it’s actually a chocolate cake coloured red.)
This is something that people have experienced worldwide, consistently. As a matter of fact, Cynthia DuBose conducted an experiment in 1980. She gave a group of people drinks that were appropriately coloured (eg. A cherry drink coloured red), and inappropriately coloured (eg. Lime drink coloured red). Out of 20 people, the percentage of flavour misidentification occurred 14-48% of the time.
For example, if the drink was green, you would say it was lime even if the drink was actually strawberry flavoured 48% of the time!
Professor DuBose did the same thing with cake and found the same results. People tend to have a hard time identifying flavours correctly if they’re not coloured the way we expect them to be.
Coloured lighting can influence your appetite.
Unfortunately, capsicum only come in three colours: red, green, and yellow. There’s no way for us to change these colours, so there is no way for us to change the taste of capsicum by changing their colour.
However, Professor Wilson has found another way. According to a study he did in 2007, changing the ambient lighting can affect the intensity of flavours. This mainly happens because people rely on external cues when doing tasks like determining how much lemon juice is in a drink.
This can happen in two ways: 1. Changing the colour of the lighting, and 2. Changing the brightness of the light.
For example, restaurants can influence people to buy more expensive wines if they change the lighting to a shade of red. Restaurants can also influence you to spend more time by changing the lighting to a soft and dim light.
So, what does this have to do with eating capsicum?
Aimee Hasenback took what was already known about colour and light and started constructing an experiment. She showed participants pictures of capsicum in different lightings, and then added light intensity afterwards.
She found that people were much more willing to eat green capsicum under yellow and green lights. Overall, yellow and blue lights seemed to be the colour that affected willingness to eat the most. It either caused you to be more willing, or much less willing to eat capsicum.
Professor Hasenback also found that high levels of light in yellow and blue lighting made people more willing to eat capsicum.
I guess that means that if I ever want to enjoy chicken fajitas, I should eat under bright yellow or blue light.