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There's A Scientific Reason Behind Enjoying Crunchy Chips

Eating is a very deep sensory experience. We all know that taste, smell, appearance, and texture matter a lot when it comes to food, but most people don't stop to consider the way food sounds.

Surprisingly, there is a scientific reason why people enjoy the crunch of a chip!

William E. Lee dedicated years of his life to researching food sounds. Before working at the University of South Florida, Lee was a food sensory researcher at Procter & Gamble, where he became a leading expert in potato chip crunch. A 1990 paper written by Lee called, Analysis of Food Crushing Sound During Mastication: Total Sound Level Studies, showed that people enjoy noisy chips more. Participants that wore white-noise headphones to cancel out any noise while they ate, snacked on fewer chips overall.

But why? Researchers think that the crunch keeps things interesting. Quiet foods don't provide enough stimulation. People enjoy experiencing variations when they eat, think about how easy it is to devour Thanksgiving dinner. As Lee told Discover Magazine, "The eating experience becomes boring more quickly - or remains exciting less long." The auditory stimulation can help keep your attention and make you crave more. That's why it's so easy to finish off a full bag of chips in one sitting without really realizing!

Another reason why we enjoy crunchy potato chips is due to the perceived freshness of them. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Sensory Studies hooked participants up to headphones and asked them to snack on potato chips while ranking their perceived freshness in real time. As they snacked, researchers adjusted the volume of the feedback loop. The study concluded that participants thought noisy chips were the freshest, whether they actually were or not.

Some experts believe that this dates back to our earliest ancestors. A slimy texture can indicate that food has gone bad and tends to gross people out. Crunchy foods such as apples and carrots signal fresh and nutritious food.

So, before you grab a bag of chips to snack on, put on a pair of noise-canceling headphones unless you want to absentmindedly devour the whole bag!


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