The sensory power of chocolate

Publié le 4 septembre, 2018

Chocolate may well be one of the most popular foods in the world. This has a lot to do not only with its taste but also its effects on the body. It no longer surprises anyone to hear that the brain interprets drinking chocolate in the same way as it does practicing sex. However, today we are not going to talk about either. Today we are going to look at the sensory power of chocolate, i.e. how it intoxicates at least four of the five senses.

The sensory power of chocolate: a most enjoyable aroma

There are studies that show that the human brain retains 35% of what it smells but only 5% of what it sees in the course of a day. Furthermore, smell, along with hearing, is the sense that most connects with the emotions. Chocolate is usually associated with good memories, sweet moments, rewards and leisure. In fact, the impact of chocolate aroma on sales has also been studied. But in a bookstore, not in a bakery. The Belgian University of Hasselt carried out a test. Every once in a while, it sprayed chocolate aroma around a bookshop. The sensory power of chocolate is such, at least inasmuch as it relates to smell, that it caused the customers to browse for longer and buy more books.

Chocolate and sight

The expression “a feast for the eyes” is not in the least empty of meaning. This is why advertising campaigns for restaurant chains are mainly visual. The window displays of sweet shops are a festival of colours and textures that change with the seasons. Red at Christmas, green and yellow at Easter, pink and blue in spring, ochre in autumn. And dark, milk or white chocolate on any occasion. Here again, seeing chocolate activates the mechanisms of association with moments of pleasure. In fact, the sensory power of chocolate in relation to sight is so great that it can mislead the consumer. Chocolate is used to coat all kinds of sweets that are totally unrelated to it. In Spain, where the Christmas sweetmeats par excellence are polvorones and turrón, both with an almond base, the chocolate-flavoured variants triumph in both cases.

Texture: the sensory power of chocolate in the mouth

It may seem less obvious but touch also reacts to the sensory power of chocolate. The texture of chocolate squares when they melt in the mouth triggers a series of measurable physical reactions. We are not referring to taste itself but just the initial effect of chocolate on the tongue, which activates the salivary glands and prepares the brain to receive the main impact of chocolate: its taste.

The taste of chocolate

Chocolate is one of those flavours that is always perfectly distinguishable no matter how well masked it is. Even chocolate with a high cocoa content, which not everyone likes, has its big fans. In other words, the success of this popular food is not due to its sweetness but to the taste of cocoa.

Taste and smell are closely linked. If we add to this the fact that the texture of chocolate is perceived on the tongue, we obtain a food capable of exciting three senses at once. This is the sensory power of chocolate.

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