It is over a century since Ivan Pavlov discovered that he could produce salivation in dogs by ringing a bell.  The dogs had been conditioned by hearing a ringing bell whenever they were fed and so in time would respond to the bell in the same way as they would to being fed.

This of course was a conditioned reflex, not a natural tendency, but an article I read recently suggests that there may be more that we can learn from associating sound and food.  A professor at Oxford University recently found that the taste of food is altered by the sounds that we hear when consuming it; low brass sounds create a bitter taste, whilst high-pitched melodies played on pianos or bells enhance sweetness.  (Maybe Caractacus Potts was onto something with his Toot Sweets).

I’ve known for sometime that Heston Blumenthal is a great believer in these effects having seen him conduct experiments with crisps or biscuits some time ago.  The sound of their crunch being as important as the actual sensation it seemed.  With a crisp manufacturer changing their packaging to make their product “sound fresher” there has to be something in it.

Today’s portrait is of local butcher and award-winning sausage maker Paul from East Boldon.  I was certainly salivating when in his shop today, but that was from the wonderful spicy aromas within rather than any sonic conditioning.  Nevertheless it does raise an important point.  Should he get a bell for his bicycle?


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