Have you ever wondered what it was like to taste color? Could yellow taste sweet? Does red taste sour? Now I know what you’re thinking…tasting color can’t possibly be a real thing. Well, I’m here to tell you that in fact, it is possible. Here’s how: Let’s start with synesthesia.
What is Synesthesia?
According to Healthline, synesthesia is “a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses.” People with the condition are referred to as “Synesthetes” and can often “see” and “taste” things like colors. Like hearing the color purple or tasting a texture such as a square. Seems strange but is oddly intriguing. The unique condition can be genetically inherited or develop in the early stages of childhood.
Even celebrities such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, and Mary J Blige live with the condition.
How exactly does color affect our taste?
As humans, we like to associate objects with particular things that are familiar to us. It is an unconscious act that has either been learned through culture and/or experience. Colors are represented everywhere, thus having color-association take place. For example, I would associate the color green with freshness because salads are green or the color pink because of strawberries or frosted strawberry donuts.
Link and Rhett, creators of the YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning, decided to figure out Can You Taste Colors? in a video from July of 2020. The video consists of the two testing out various experiments that have been scientifically tested before them, with their main goal being to determine whether these tests are factual.
In the first test, they were prompted to taste four bowls of pudding (red, white, green, and brown) one at a time based on what they thought the color would taste like. The taste options were sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. In the original test, 75% of participants matched the color to the flavor the chef intended. Therefore, proving that most people associate a color to a certain flavor profile.
In the next experiment, Link and Rhett were prompted to test seven different drinks, all the different colors, to see if they could guess the flavor based on the color. Right off the bat, Rhett associated red with cherry and Link with vanilla. As you can see, two opposite flavors. The overall goal of this experiment was to prove people exhibit an unconscious association between flavor and colors. This is exactly what the two did.
In one of the final experiments, the two needed to determine whether or not the color of beef affects the taste of beef. On one side, the raw version of beef was presented and on the other side was the cooked version. They had some trouble figuring out how to go about matching them up, but they thought the meat with more color had more fat, vice versa. Somewhat tricky in the beginning but interesting to watch.
How to determine if you can taste colors?
Online assessments and experiments are a fun and easy way to determine many things, including synesthesia. Since I am not a medical professional, I can’t tell you 100% that these methods will work for you. If you feel as though you truly have this condition, talk to a certified or licensed professional. But if you’d like to take some assessments or conduct your experiment just for fun, here are some that I came across.
Color is a powerful thing. Although most people prefer their food and drinks to match their expectations, this won’t always be the case. It’s amazing to see how our perception can change based on color and taste. Next time you’re eating, see if you can detect the taste of a certain color. Who knows, you just might.
Source (s): Spence, C. (2015, April 22). On the psychological impact of food colour. Flavour. https://flavourjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13411-015-0031-3