Food and cheese have a unique relationship. Studies have shown that the volume of music affects what customers crave. As an example, music played at a softer level makes people more likely to order healthy, lighter foods, while louder music increases stimulation and stress, leading people to want greasier, heavier foods like hamburgers. Loud music also distracts eaters, however, so they don’t taste flavors as keenly. That’s why you’ll never hear blaring music at a really fancy restaurant, because chefs want you to pay as attention as possible to what’s on your plate.
But does sound and music affect the actual flavor of food, not just our perception of it? That’s what researchers in Switzerland wanted to know. Their experiment, called “Cheese in Surround Sound,” exposed huge wheels of Emmental cheese to different types of musics. In order to control the experiment as much as possible, all the cheese was produced from milk from same farmers and processed in the same vat. Housed in separate wooden crates, the 22-pound wheels each listened to a type of music for 24 hours a day, like Mozart, Led Zeppelin, and A Tribe Called Quest. The music was sent straight into the cheese through transmitters, not traditional speakers, so it’s more about the sound waves produced by the music than anything else.
After six months, the cheese fully matured, food technologists stepped in to taste the results. All the cheeses had a milder flavor than the cheese that didn’t get to hear any music, while the hip-hop cheese was the strongest and more fruity. This means that the low-frequencies associated with the hip-hop music did indeed improve the flavor of cheese, at least according to the people who taste it. The next experiment will pit hip-hop cheese against other cheeses matured in silence.