Researchers Use 3D Printed Food to Discover That People Like to Eat Sweet Things to Feel Good

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Flying in the face of long-established tradition that sees humans forage for ice cream, sweets, and the odd doughnut when they're feeling gloomy, Lancaster University wants you to taste every bitter defeat. Literally.

Using 3D printed food technology, rather than nipping out to the local supermarket for a snack run, researchers explored the relationship between the emotional fallout of everyday scenarios and how it relates to taste.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that sweet tastes are associated with positive experiences, whilst bitter tastes had more negative connotations.

"Taste can be a powerful tool to express and communicate experiences,” said Tom Gayler, of Lancaster University and lead researcher of the study. “Although lab-based studies have looked at the relationships between basic tastes and emotions, until now we have known very little about how this extends to real-life scenarios.

“We wanted to find out more about which tastes are associated with which emotions, to discover if our sense of taste can be used to develop new experiences, and we also wanted to explore how some of these experiences, such as finding out how your favourite team did in the big match, might work."

Dr Vaiva Kalnikaitē, CEO of research partner Dovetailed, added that the 3D printing of food allowed researchers to "isolate and control for taste" as opposed to just putting on a buffet, presumably.

If you're wondering about the practical applications of all of this, some ideas from the researchers include Emotastes - droplets of "sweet or bitter tastes 3D printed in real time to aid communication" - as well as using "flavour-based interfaces" that could help with memory recall. Supporting "migrant communities" to pass on their culture by sharing traditional tastes and flavours, is another suggestion, along with a couple of other ideas for which actual food would do the same, if not an infinitely better, job.

“New 3D printed technologies are allowing us to explore our sense of taste like never before. This opens up exciting new possibilities to develop new, more engaging experiences, to help spark forgotten memories, or as a new way of expressing opinions," said Professor Corina Sas.

Just give the people what they want and give us a Star Trek replicator already.

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