Cornell University food scientists found that cheese eaten in pleasant Virtual Reality surroundings tasted better than the same cheese eaten in a drab sensory booth.
Tech Crunch reports that about 50 panelists who used virtual reality headsets as they ate were given three identical samples of blue cheese. The study participants were virtually placed in a standard sensory booth, a pleasant park bench and the Cornell cow barn to see custom-recorded 360-degree videos.
The panelists were unaware that the cheese samples were identical, and rated the pungency of the blue cheese significantly higher in the cow barn setting than in the sensory booth or the virtual park bench. We’ve seen similar reports for years as it related to packaging. On one segment I did on Oprah years ago – we went to a shopping mall and had shoppers taste apple juice. We made up three brand names, one was in a paper container, another in plastic and the third in glass. The apple juice itself was the same product. No surprise almost 100% of the shoppers said the apple juice in glass tasted superior.
“When we eat, we perceive not only just the taste and aroma of foods, we get sensory input from our surroundings – our eyes, ears, even our memories about surroundings,” said researcher Robin Dando.
“This research validates that virtual reality can be used, as it provides an immersive environment for testing,” said Dando. “Visually, virtual reality imparts qualities of the environment itself to the food being consumed – making this kind of testing cost-efficient.”