Working at Swinky’s definitely has its perks, the most obvious of which being all the tasty treats I get to sample before they hit our shelves. One evening after work, Mr Swinky revealed the latest idea for summer- our delicious homemade ice cream ready to take away and have at home.
From the three candyfloss-pink ice-creams I spied in the corner of the freezer, Mr Swinky took one out and swiftly ripped off the label. Apparently, I was supposed to figure out the flavour for myself (Mr Swinky never lets me have my cake and just eat it…). So I arrived home and announced to my flatmates that we had a mystery treat to try out, this being answered with cheers and the grabbing of spoons. We all dug out a cold chunk of ice-cream topped with yellow sprinkles, and took a bite. I realised the yellow sprinkles were in fact popping-candy as they crackled on my tongue along with the sweet, creamy taste of the ice-cream.
“… Is it strawberries and cream?”
We genuinely had no idea. I went back to Mr Swinky a few days later with the results before it was revealed that the flavour was in fact champagne. Confused as to why I didn’t realise this straight away myself (how could I ever get an alcoholic flavour wrong?), I left work that day and went straight back to my freezer to taste what was left by my greedy housemates in the bottom of the cup. It suddenly clicked in an instant- it did taste of champagne! With the ice-cream melting on my tongue I was transported back to neon fireworks on New Year’s Eve and the clinking of crystal glasses at midnight.
This revelation got me thinking- we were so quick to guess the flavour based on the pastel pink colouring of the ice-cream despite the clue of popping candy and now quite-obvious essence of champagne. Did the colouring really have that much of an influence on our taste?
As you can probably guess, the colour of food really does have an impact on how your food tastes. One study from the 1970s showed that people’s reactions to a plate of seemingly normal steak and chips would change dramatically after it was revealed that this food was made to appear normal with coloured lighting. In fact, the steak was blue, the chips were green and the reactions involved vomiting. I doubt we would like anything concocted by someone like Dr. Zeuss- as Sam-I-Am would say, “I do not like green eggs and ham”.
Speaking of green food, Heinz developed a luminous and rather gory green version of their tomato ketchup. Even looking at the picture makes me feel queasy, it looks like something you’d find up Shrek’s nostrils:
Needless to say, it wasn’t very popular and is no longer on the shelves. But it isn’t just a change in colour that makes us taste food differently. Starburst and Skittles found that after introducing a ‘mystery’ flavour to their range in the form of a white coloured sweet, people were very bad at guessing what it was. Eventually it was revealed to be cherry flavour (which of course became instantly recognisable when coloured red) but without the clue of colour most people were clueless when it came to the flavour.
At Swinky’s, I’ve definitely noticed the massive impact of colour. Apart from the fact that our shop is aglow with candy-pop colours, most of our sweets are bright, eye-catching, and definitely delicious. Where cupcakes are concerned, I never fail to notice how much people compliment the Deep Dark Chocolate, Orange and Chilli cupcake for its distinctive fiery red and yellow frosting or how often young boys will make a bee-line for our bold blue Swinky’s Sweet cupcake. Pretty little girls instantly ask for our pastel-pink Very Vanilla cupcakes and most people will chuckle at the apt colouring of our Earl Grey cupcakes decorated in a delicate grey.
Overall, I wholeheartedly embrace colour both in food and in life (though it’s not hard to tell that I love colour when you catch me behind the counter). It makes the experience of eating food so much more exciting and vibrant, as well as enhancing your perception of flavour too. I encourage you all to be daring with your food colouring next time you’re in the kitchen!
Red Velvet XX