“The Plane Truth About Airline Meals”

Just what do air­line meals have to do with hyp­no­sis or mind control?

Well, as it turns out, a new study shows signs that sound can influ­ence how we taste foods. Cer­tain sounds can dead­en the taste of salt and sug­ar, ren­der­ing foods bland and, well, taste­less. Such sounds as the ever­p­re­sent back­ground noise found in airplanes.

The inex­plic­a­ble bland­ness of air­line food has been pon­dered at 30,000 feet by gen­er­a­tions of trav­ellers. Now an expla­na­tion has been offered in the form of research show­ing that peo­ple lose their sense of taste when lis­ten­ing to the sort of “white noise” heard inside an air­craft’s cabin.


The find­ings could explain a phe­nom­e­non well known to air­line com­pa­nies: pas­sen­gers tend to lose their sense of taste when they are in the air. For this rea­son, air­line meals are often “improved” with extra salt, sug­ar and oth­er flavourings.

This leads to an inter­est­ing set of ques­tions: can tastes be not only depressed but improved or changed because of sounds? (It could make an inter­est­ing diet­ing aid, a specif­i­cal­ly designed sound or sounds played while eat­ing to con­trol appetite, and that would be a more benign form of mind control.)

The sci­en­tists found that cer­tain sounds not only affect­ed peo­ple’s sense of salti­ness or sweet­ness, they also influ­enced how crunchy some types of food sound­ed to the din­ers – which in turn affect­ed their per­cep­tions of fresh­ness and palatability.

A fur­ther part of the study showed that peo­ple lis­ten­ing to sounds they deemed to be pleas­ant were also more like­ly to say that their food was tasti­er, which may explain why many restau­rants play ambi­ent back­ground music.

This sec­tion sug­gests that by con­trol­ling the sounds and music of the envi­ron­ment, restau­rants influ­ence not only the enjoy­ment of the food but even influ­ence how the food is per­ceived, whether it is fresh and fla­vor­ful. That’s cer­tain­ly a form of sub­tle mind con­trol, manip­u­lat­ing and con­trol­ling the per­cep­tions of the peo­ple eat­ing the food as opposed to allow­ing them to deter­mine for them­selves those ques­tions, and while it may be to improve their enjoy­ment of the meal, it can also be used to cov­er up infe­ri­or food.

So I guess the state­ment here should be “Let the eater beware.”

Thanks to Der­ren Brown’s blog entry for the point­er to the orig­i­nal sto­ry here.

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