Airline food is notoriously bland because of engine noise, not a lack of spice, according to new research. Volunteers who ate sweet or salty foods while listening to silence through headphones found the flavors more intense than a group of volunteers who heard white noise. The latter group found the flavors much blander, and the food crunchier. Researchers say the experiment confirmed their hunch that background noise affects people's sense of taste.
"There's a general opinion that airplane foods aren't fantastic. I'm sure airlines do their best —and given that, we wondered if there are other reasons why the food would not be so good" the lead researcher tells the BBC. "The evidence points to this effect being down to where your attention lies—if the background noise is loud it might draw your attention to that, away from the food." (And while airplane food may not kill you, being stranded at the airport might. Click here for one tragic tale.)