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What Does Taste Sound Like?

Using the work of Condiment Junkie, a sensory branding agency, test your brain to see if you can connect sound with taste.

Posted on November 7, 2014, at 3:58 p.m. ET

Chris Ritter / BuzzFeed

What you hear when you eat can affect your sense of taste.

The tracks below were created based on psychological research from Oxford University that says that certain sounds can enhance specific flavors. The sensory branding agency Condiment Junkie used that research to make these five "flavor" tracks. See if you can figure out which flavor they're trying to evoke!

1.

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  1. What taste would you associate with these high-pitched bells and piano chords?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    Those chimes? They're sweet!

    Just as sweetness is pleasant to the tongue, scientists have shown that it is pleasant to the ear. The high-pitched bells and piano notes used smoothly blend into one another.

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2.

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  1. Which of these foods seems to match this sound?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    That's the sound of salt, the thing that makes potato chips perfect and glorious in every way.

    As you can hear, each note in this sound is sharply detached from the next. That, plus the sound of a salt shaker increases the association of saltiness with the sound.

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3.

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  1. Which flavor would you associate with this sound?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    That blurpy weird little tune is connected to sour!

    Just like the taste, the sound of sour is slightly uncomfortable. Based on sensory research, high tempo and high-pitched brass instruments are used to create this effect.

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4.

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  1. If you were in a grocery aisle and you had to pick a food off the shelf to match this tune, what would it be?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    That cracklin' ditty is the sound of umami, which is found in steak.

    Although studies are still happening to figure out what's going on with it, umami is the essence of savory flavor. It is found in meats and shellfish as well as some kinds of cheese and it's what makes us love them. Research on this less well-recognised taste is relatively scarce. Just like its sensation on the tongue, the sound of umami is warm, pleasant and viscous.

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5.

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  1. If you were at a bar and had to order a drink to match this sound, what would it be?

    Correct! 
    Wrong! 

    That sounds as bitter as a mug of delicious dark beer!

    Research shows that the sound of bitter is slow and resonating. Like the taste, it builds gradually and lingers. The low-pitched notes are connected in a rough fashion to reflect the bitter flavor.

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Condiment Junkie is a sensory branding agency that works with leading chefs and brands to create enhanced food and drink experiences. All of their work is based on proven scientific research into how our senses are interlinked.

If you're interested in knowing more about how our senses affect our dining experiences, check out The Perfect Meal, by Charles Spence and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman, the researchers whose work closely informs Condiment Junkie's sounds.

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