The Color Of Your Napkin Can Affect The Flavor Of Food

It's a known fact backed by years of research that color has a significant effect on appetite. We're more attracted to red and yellow foods because they awaken our taste buds while cooler tones like blue suppress appetite if not presented correctly.

The neurons in the hypothalamus part of the brain are activated at the sight of food and if it looks appetizing, the glands in the mouth start producing saliva. The overall effect of color on food is one of the main reasons why restaurants pay close attention to the color of their walls, dining room lighting, plates and even napkins.

Yes, napkins. Experts have recently found a strong correlation between the flavor of food and napkin color.

Tork, a napkin brand joined forces with a Swedish chef and food stylist, Linda Lundgren, to explore the relationship between the tone of a serviette and how food tastes. The experiment resulted in some surprising findings about the powerful link between taste buds and color perception that previous studies missed.

Lundgren paired various dishes with different colored napkins and concluded that food can actually taste sweeter, saltier or richer by choosing the right napkin shade.

"How do you make a strawberry mousse sweeter and richer-tasting? The answer isn't more strawberries and sugar. Instead, try serving the dish with a coral pink napkin," Lundgren told The Caterer.

"The colour actually increases the perception of sweetness and decreases bitterness, making it perfect for desserts," the food expert added.

Understanding which which napkin color and food pairing go work well enhances one's experience at mealtime by tricking the taste buds into tasting food differently. For instance, using an aqua blue napkin brings out the yellow and orange colors of eggs and Indian food while making them seem less salty.

Coral pink, as briefly mentioned on the previous page, reduces bitterness and makes dishes taste sweeter. Deeper pinks and reds pair best with desserts and help accentuate garnish.

Earthy tones like brown, black and anthracite grey boost richness by creating a contrast with light-colored foods commonly found in Mediterranean cuisine.  As for brighter napkin hues like mustard yellow and orange, not only do they increase appetite, they also pair well with greens, enhance tartness and complement seafood.

Tork's senior product manager, Julia Wood believes that restaurant operators should pay close attention to how table settings could affect customer experience if they "want to stay ahead in today's competitive marketplace."

"Getting creative by simply using complementary napkin colours with the dishes they serve will really make an exquisite plate of food stand out," she added.

If you're still not fully convinced, you can try the experiment with your family and friends at home. You can even kick it up a notch by bringing out your inner Martha Stewart and coordinate folded colored-napkins with the table settings.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.