START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Rituals Make Food Taste Better

Rituals Make Food Taste Better

You spend a little extra time stirring the lemonade, listening to the spoon clinking against the glass. You break the chocolate bar into neat sections before popping that first little rectangle into your mouth. You sing the happy birthday song and make a wish before blowing out the candles on the cake. All these things can make those foods taste better, according to a collection of studies published in Psychological Science.

The research indicates that rituals, even silly ones, have the power to change our perception of how food tastes. Kathleen Vohs, psychological scientist at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota observed that many people create little routines before eating or drinking, so she set out to find out what effect they had on taste perception.

“Whenever I order an espresso, I take a sugar packet and shake it, open the packet and pour a teeny bit of sugar in, and then taste,” says Ms. Vohs. “Itís never enough sugar, so I then pour about half of the packet in. The thing is, this isnít a functional ritual, I should just skip right to pouring in half the packet.”

Along with other researchers, Vohs conducted a series of experiments involving ritualistic behaviors, consumption of various foods, and how people perceive taste. In one experiment, volunteers were asked to eat a piece of chocolate according to these instructions: “Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it.” Others were asked to relax for a bit, then eat a chocolate bar however they wanted.

Those who performed the ritual gave the chocolate higher ratings for taste and were willing to pay a higher price for the chocolate than the group who didn’t.

Another experiment showed that random actions don’t do the trick. Rather, repeated, episodic, and fixed behaviors — rituals — are more likely to improve our perception of how food tastes. Researchers also found that a delay between the ritual and eating intensified the effect. Apparently, anticipation improves taste. Watching someone else perform the ritual doesn’t work. It’s the personal involvement that does the trick.

The research team believes this type of ritual may be useful in other situations as well. “We are thinking of getting patients to perform rituals before a surgery and then measuring their pain post-operatively and how fast they heal,” says Vohs.

Psychological Science is a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Co-authors included Yajin Wang of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and Francesca Gino and Michael Norton of Harvard Business School.

Photo: Collection-Photodisc|Photographer-Robert Koene|Thinkstock

Related Reading
Cartoon Characters Make Food Taste Better
Muffin Top Madness

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Family, Food, Fun, Home, Life

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love


+ add your own
3:06AM PST on Feb 22, 2014

Easy way to solve problems in the world.You have been looking for child for a very long time and haven't been blessed with one, Are you a business man/woman and you want your business to grow fast, You are a politician, an artist and you want to have fame, A woman and you husband divorced you to marry a new girl, after the divorced he never gave you your portion of properties to make a living and you need what belong to you as a woman or you want your husband back to you, You want to become powerful and famous in the world. Contact Priest Risade at Risade Temple( and every thing will be well okay, or you need money to open a factory on your own, I can perform several ritual for money without no side effect. An engineer, you want to win contract, you need a job opportunities, you want to get more fame as an artist . The great Priest Risade can give all which i have mentioned and many more to you with great result, no side effect and you will laugh at the end. The great Priest Risade can put an end to all your problems except life. Brings along wealth and famous in life, you have a full access to eradicate poverty
away from your life and realize your dream.Contact the Great Priest Risade Details Via ask for phone

6:22AM PST on Jan 3, 2014

I still make my tea the old fashioned way. Warmed tea pot in a cozy, good steeping time. A tea bag in a cup just doesn't taste the same! Half of it is the anticipation I think.

3:14AM PDT on Sep 17, 2013

I agree with this article. I have a ritual in the morning with my coffee coffee, which always makes it taste better- I have it in bed!

9:24PM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Interesting, ty.

9:20PM PDT on Sep 14, 2013

Interesting, ty.

4:46AM PDT on Aug 14, 2013


11:03AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Beth, I think so.

It creates a space in your personal world for the activity. (Eating in this case)

Even with the one group in the chocolate experiment simply waiting, the people with actions to center themselves reported more enjoyment.

8:44PM PDT on Aug 10, 2013


3:06PM PDT on Aug 6, 2013


10:43AM PDT on Aug 6, 2013

We have so many rituals when the family was together it's a wonder we got to eat.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

OMG. Does this writer really try to whitewash the hormonal hell most of us go through year after ye…

I appreciate the information.

Am Julia Andrea From USA I never believed that i could finally get back the happiness and the love t…

I'm puzzled by the results of this study. If adequate selenium is found in the foods mentioned, ther…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!