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Fork Lickin’ Good

Want to change the way your food tastes? try using a different utensil.

Author Jacqueline Detwiler


Imagine you’re about to take a bite of sharp cheddar cheese. The saltiness, the nuttiness, the mild sweetness—they’re all inherent characteristics of the cheese, right? To some degree they are, and to some degree they’re attributable to the tool you’re using to shovel said cheese into your mouth. In a recent study in the journal Flavour, researchers from the University of Oxford investigated how different weights, sizes, colors and shapes of plastic utensils influenced the perception of sweetness, saltiness, density and price of yogurt and cheese. Though the results were complicated, they tended to express a few simple truisms: Lighter spoons make food seem heavier and more expensive; blue spoons can make food taste saltier, especially if the color of the food contrasts; and serving cheese on a knife makes it taste saltier than serving it on a spoon, toothpick or fork. Looking to lower your sodium? Might want to invest in a set of blue knives.

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