In an experiment by the University of Minnesota, one group was just given a chocolate bar to eat, while the other group was given specific 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.
The instructed group rated the taste of the chocolate bar higher, and said they would hypothetically pay more for it.
Another experiment involved knocking on a table before eating a raw carrot. Again, people enjoyed carrots more with the random little ritual before it.
This is like how kids in Australia often bite the limbs off Tiny Teddies in a set order before eating the torso. (Tiny teddies are little biscuits shaped like teddy bears; they’re a rip-off of the US’s teddy grahams, sorry patriots.) Cheers-ing is another obvious pre-consumption ritual.
They did another couple of experiments to rule out other possibilities: random actions before eating didn’t have a benefit; they had to be planned and focused. And watching someone else perform a ritual didn’t improve the taste — you have to participate in it yourself.
Recommendation: if you have a food you eat semi-regularly, develop a brief ritual for eating it.
This piece was originally published in The Whippet #133 – subscribe to get the next issue in your inbox!
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