How Does the Color of Food Effect the Way We Eat?

Vision and Predisposition

You've probably heard the old saying, "We eat with our eyes." People have a predisposed perception of colors that affect the senses. This is true with colors of rooms, colors of clothing and colors of food. When it comes to food, the presentation plays an initial key role if you subtract the sense of smell. An appealing colored presentation of food without the ability to smell it will affect our brains to perceive how delicious it will be. This is why many food manufacturers add colors and dyes to food to make it more appealing visually. Even if the color and presentation of the display fails to meet a predisposed expectation, it does little to mitigate how you expected the food to taste. People have been conditioned to apply taste to certain colors and many experiments altering colors show that your expectations of the food you're trying changes the perceived flavor of the food.


When the sense of smell is applied to foods before presentation, people apply an image in their minds of what they think the food they're smelling should look like. Take hot dogs and ketchup, for example. If you were to prepare hot dogs the way everyone enjoys them without allowing people to see the food, they will smell the food and anticipate what the hot dogs should look like and what they will taste like. Their minds are conditioned to apply the light beige, fleshy-colored hot dog topped with a red line of ketchup. But if you were to serve red hot dogs and top them with a green colored ketchup (which was available at one time) you may be surprised that after the sense of smell whets the appetite of the anticipating diners, the visual colors will have a direct affect on their appetite. Although the red hot dogs and green ketchup will taste exactly like what their sense of smell anticipated, they will be unable to overcome the visual presentation of the food. Serving the same hot dogs to the people blindfolded will result in them eating them without regard, because their image of the food presentation in the mind complies to their anticipated taste.

How Restaurants Use Colors

Restaurants may often add certain colors to the decor of the interior to enhance our appetite. Reds and oranges are considered an appetite booster. To increase the average check of each patron at their establishment, clever restaurateurs will apply reds and oranges to their walls and displayed decor in hopes to enhance and increase appetites. Food garnishing is another way to make a plate presentation more appealing. Colors are often considered when making certain dishes at restaurants. The entree is often served with a starch and a vegetable of a color that enhances the starch and the entree. For added presentation, a colorful garnish is often added to the plate. Whether the consumer eats the garnish or the vegetables, the correct combination of colors on a plate make the overall intended entree more appealing.

About this Author

Jody L. Campbell spent the last 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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