As discussed in my previous post, some people experience colors when they taste flavors. While most people don’t have vivid color impressions when experiencing flavors, we do tend to associate certain colors with flavors, as we discussed before (see blog post from ***).
Just came across a paper from Taiwan where mathematics were used to quantify the appropriateness of the colors chosen for food packages—appropriateness in the sense that colors should reflect the tastes of the food inside the package.
In this study, 53 design students determined how closely they felt five tastes (acid, sweet, bitter, spicy, and salty) were associated with each sample in an array of 216 color samples identified by RGB codes.
The researchers then applied the mathematical formulae they developed to the colors in a couple packaging designs. The designer of the packaging shown below “intended this design [to feel] acid, sweet and a little spicy for the accordance with the real pickle inside.” Using the algorithm the researchers developed, the result suggested that the acid and sweet color representations were “medium,” but the “spicy” message was less intense. What do you think?
They researchers presented another image, this time packaging for durian. The designer intended this image to convey sweetness. According to the researchers’ algorithm, and also to me, this color palette hardly represents sweet, and in fact, at least for me, says nothing about durians except that they happen to be yellow. I can’t even say that the stink of a durian comes through. Again, what do you think?
* Tsai, Hung-Cheng; Chen, Chiao-Ying; Hsu, Yu-Chun. Color design based on color-to-flavor synesthesia using fuzzy computation. The 40th International Conference on Computers & Indutrial Engineering, 2010, ISBN 9781424472956, pp. 1 - 4.