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The Plate's the Thing

A new study suggests food served on a china plate tastes better to some than the same food served on a paper plate. Nearly 1,000 college students participated in an experiment where they drank mineral water from either flimsy cups or more substantial cups and were then asked about the taste. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan and Rutgers University, and appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, focused on how touch and perception can affect flavor.

Researchers concluded that to some people, a drink in a flimsy cup tasted worse than the same drink in a firmer cup. Not everyone responded that way, the study found, but enough did that understanding “haptic cues,” or the touch of an object, “is clearly important for managers for their product and packaging decisions.”

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