Why air travellers ask for tomato juice on flights

Why air travellers ask for tomato juice on flights
Highlights

Ever felt like having tomato juice while you were on a flight? Scientists reveal there\'s a reason behind the craving.According to the new study by Cornell University, in noisy airplane situations, umami-rich foods become your taste buds\' best buds.

Ever felt like having tomato juice while you were on a flight? Scientists reveal there's a reason behind the craving.According to the new study by Cornell University, in noisy airplane situations, umami-rich foods become your taste buds' best buds.


Umami, a Japanese scientific term, describes the sweet, savory taste of amino acids such as glutamate in foods like tomato juice.

Assistant professor Robin Dando said that their study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced. The multisensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat.

The study may guide reconfiguration of airline food menus to make airline food taste better. Auditory conditions in air travel actually may enhance umami, the researchers found. In contrast, exposure to the loud noise condition dulled sweet taste ratings.

Airlines acknowledge the phenomenon. German airline Lufthansa had noticed that passengers were consuming as much tomato juice as beer. The airline commissioned a private study released last fall that showed cabin pressure enhanced tomato juice taste.

Taste perception depends not only on the integration of several sensory inputs associated with the food or drink itself, but also on the sensory attributes of the environment in which the food is consumed, the scientists say.

The study is published online in the journal Human Perception and Performance, and is due to appear in a forthcoming print edition.
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