Anyone for strawberries and the smell of cut grass? Scientists reveal new revolutionary flavour combination

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Forget strawberries and cream; sensory scientists have revealed it is strawberries and the smell of freshly cut grass that is this summer’s sweetest taste sensation.

The Centre for the Study of the Senses at the School of Advanced Study's Institute of Philosophy recently found more Brits (25 per cent) associate strawberries with the smell of freshly cut grass than the popular food combination – strawberries and cream – chosen by only 1 in 6 (16 per cent).

A team of scientists investigated the link between emotions, taste and smell to find the next ‘sensorial hit’ to take the foodie world by storm.

They revealed that strawberries strongly awaken all our senses and are the fruit that evoke the most positive memories – more than four in 10 (44 per cent) Brits said these were happy ones. Others said that these specific memories were relaxing (30 per cent) or exciting (10 per cent).

Over three quarters of people (77 per cent) said the aroma of a fresh strawberry immediately triggers summer memories, while two thirds (64 per cent) said it prompts thoughts of sunshine.

Other fruits such as apples and bananas spark visions of munching breakfast on the go or cramming in lunch at their desk.

Experts found that a fresh strawberry is most likely to recall summer memories of garden parties, street markets, picnics, wedding receptions and breakfast in bed and this is mainly due to its distinctive aroma.

The scientists also conducted 74 trials in the Centre’s sensory lab to explore relationships between sounds and flavour – revealing that different soundscapes can enhance the sense of taste.

The sounds of a picnic and lawn mower cutting grass made strawberries taste fruitier than when people listened to office and commuting noises.

Following this sensorial discovery, top chefs are busy creating dishes that appeal to all the senses and heighten the eating experience. James 'Jocky' Petrie, who has risen to fame alongside Heston Blumenthal, has been commissioned by industry body British Summer Fruits to create exciting recipes to stimulate the senses this summer.

Petrie’s crazy concoctions include a strawberry and chilli nectar that evokes the heat of a summer’s day and a strawberry sandwich made with white chocolate sponge, olive oil ganache, mint leaves, coriander seeds and a layer of ‘grass’ – made with white chocolate and wheatgrass.

Sensory expert, Professor Barry Smith (director of the Institute of Philosophy), said:

“More than any other sense, smell can evoke powerful, emotional memories.

“Strawberries have been shown to trigger nostalgic summer memories, because people usually see them as a seasonal treat. 

“Despite the fact that strawberries and cream is one of the most popular food combinations, the majority of people associate British strawberries with the waft of freshly mown grass so top chefs are already creating recipes to conjure these aromas.”

Chef James ‘Jocky’ Petrie, Head of Development at The Ledbury, said:

“No flavour shouts summer to me more than that of a strawberry. It’s an extraordinarily diverse berry that adds real depth of flavour to any sweet or savoury dish, which complements bitter and acid ingredients.

“Barry Smith’s exciting work at the lab shows that strawberries trigger happy memories of years gone by and the sounds of summer make them taste even better.”

Part of an emerging trend, retailers are also increasingly using multi-sensory design – dubbed Sensory Architecture - to enhance customer’s experiences and environments.

Research by Condiment Junkie3 has shown controlling colour, texture, sound, smell, shape and form can have a profound effect on enjoyment and how memorable an experience is. It can even enhance taste perception by over 20 per cent.

For more information, please contact: 

The Red Brick Road
Ruth Thomas
PR Account Manager
T: 020 7575 7675  
M: 07866 033 538
E: ruth.thomas@theredbrickroad.com

Kate Bailey
PR Account Executive
T: 0207 5757 623
M: 07896 055 088
E: kate.bailey@theredbrickroad.com

– Ends –

Interview requests:

• Sensory professor, Barry Smith, is available to interview on request.

• Chef, James ‘Jocky’ Petrie, is available to interview on request

• Spokespeople from British Summer Fruits are available to interview

Notes to editors

1. The research was carried out on behalf of British Summer Fruits between 26 May and 28 May 2014 by The University of London’s Centre for the Study of the Senses. The Centre is part of the School of Advanced Study. The School of Advanced Study, University of London (SAS) is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its 10 member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2012-13, SAS: welcomed 833 research fellows and associates; held 2,231 research dissemination events; received 21.7 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,529 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews. .
The sample of 142 participants took part in an association task where five randomised dimensions were tested - smell, texture, sound, indoor places, outdoor places. The test was conducted for various seasonal and non-seasonal fruits, and for each dimension, five values ranging from very negative to very positive were presented in a randomised order.

2. The University of London’s Centre for the Study of the Senses carried out the second part of the research on behalf of British Summer Fruits on 5 June 2014. They carried out 74 repeat trials of a blind tasting testing for the influence of different soundscapes on fruitiness, pleasantness, and congruence between sound and fruit. Various controls were included for variance within and across fruit type.
Studies were conducted by O. Deroy ; M. Fairhurst ; B.C. Smith at the Centre for the Study of the Senses, School of Advanced Study University of London.

Soundcapes created by sensory branding specialists Condiment Junkie @condimentjunkie

About British Summer Fruits British Summer Fruits is the industry body that represents 98% of berries supplied to UK supermarkets.  It funds Seasonal Berries – a campaign that celebrates the seasonality of soft fruits. www.seasonalberries.co.uk

About Professor Barry Smith
Barry C Smith is a professor of philosophy and director of the Institute of Philosophy as well as the founder of the Centre for the Study of the Senses, which pioneers collaborative research between philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. He has held visiting professorships at the University of California at Berkeley and the Ecole Normale Superiéure in Paris. He has published language, consciousness, the emotions, taste and smell. He now works mainly on the multisensory perception of flavour and has published in Nature and Food Quality and Preference, as well as carrying out consultancy work for the food and drinks industry. He is a regular broadcaster and has written and presented a four-part radio series, The Mysteries of the Brain for the BBC World Service.

About James ‘Jocky’ Petrie
James ‘Jocky’ Petrie is widely regarded as one of the UK's most innovative, imaginative and creative development chefs. He is most recognised for his former role as Head of Creative Development of the multi award winning 3 Michelin starred restaurant The Fat Duck, as well as his work alongside Heston Blumenthal researching and creating dishes that have received global critical acclaim. He appears regularly as judge and mentor on BBC's Masterchef and as panelist on BBC Radio 4's Kitchen Cabinet. Petrie is currently Head of Development at two Michelin starred The Ledbury restaurant in Notting Hill, recently voted 10th best restaurant in the world.

About the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the School of Advanced Study
The Centre for the Study of the Senses, or CenSes, is hosted by the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London. The Centre pioneers collaborative sensory research across disciplines, drawing on the work of philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists and anthropologists, connecting groups of researchers from different fields and sectors who can benefit from one another’s results. In 2013, it received a large grant from the AHRC to develop a new interdisciplinary laboratory.

The School of Advanced Study, University of London (SAS) is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its 10 member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2012-13, SAS: welcomed 833 research fellows and associates; held 2,231 research dissemination events; received 21.7 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,529 visits to its specialist libraries and collections.
Find out more at http://philosophy.sas.ac.uk/centres/censes and www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.

3 About Condiment Junkie
Condiment Junkie is a creative agency specialising in sensory branding. They work with some of the world’s leading brands to deliver compelling sensory identities and brand experiences. All of their work is based on scientific research into how our emotions and senses interact.

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