Posts tagged “snacks”

The snack whisperer

Watch Your Mouth: The Sounds of Snacking [] – Peter Smith examines the way marketing and product development have used sound to manipulate consumer response by building in auditory cues (both in the crinkly packaging and words used in naming and branding) and speculates whether these powers can be used for good rather than evil. For creating healthier eating patterns rather than pushing fatty snacks. Not that I personally have anything against fatty snacks. I wonder if this tactic would be sufficient to move the needle on carrot consumption?

Dan Jurafsky, a Stanford linguist who blogs on The Language of Food, recently performed a “breakfast experiment” on 81 ice cream flavors and 592 cracker brands. He found that the ice cream names tended to employ back vowels-sounds formed in the back of our mouths that generally refer to big, fat, heavy things. Front vowels, on the other hand, tend to be used in words that refer to small, thin, light foods, like crackers. Say them out loud: rocky road, chocolate, cookie dough, coconut-heavy on low-frequency o’s. Now listen to Cheese Nips, Cheez-Its, Wheat Thins, Ritz Bits, Triscuit, Cheese Crisps-you can hear all those little bitty e’s and i’s. These things matter. Sound symbolism appears to be more universal than the kinds of learned cultural associations we pair with colors or odors…In other words, making potato chips appealing goes well beyond the right combination of salt and oil. From the atmospheric crinkling of the bag to the crunch inside your mouth, all these sounds influence our perception of food at the affective level. Even saying the word “chip” forces a smile. It’s easy to see these tools could be used to manipulate and market food deceptively, say, “Snap into an (itty-bitty sounding) Slim Jim!” But it’s also worth thinking about how subtle auditory cues might be employed to encourage healthier behaviors-literally, to make healthier food sound better. If baby carrots were rebranded as “bits” or vegetable stands took a cue from Good Humor’s chirpy ice cream jingles, who knows?


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