Unwrapping the secret to the best tasting chocolate

Everyone has their favourite choccy, but researchers have discovered a surprise element that helps sways people's opinion on what makes chocolate taste the best.

While taste is the dominant factor in determining what chocolate people buy, perception of taste is influenced by the packaging, according to research published in the latest Heliyon journal.

The University of Melbourne study involved 75 lucky chocolate tasters aged between 25 and 55.

First they were given plain dark chocolate in an unmarked cup, then given six specially designed chocolate wrappers and then the same dark chocolate in the ­wrappers.

The six wrappers were designed to represent every day, special, bold, fun, healthy and premium branding concepts.

 

Lilly Koot, 13 and Lili Gay, 13, enjoying some chocolate. Picture: Sarah Matray
Lilly Koot, 13 and Lili Gay, 13, enjoying some chocolate. Picture: Sarah Matray

Researchers found tasters had a stronger emotional association from the packaging than merely from tasting the chocolate. None of the tasters realised all the chocolate products they were eating were exactly the same.

"The packaging concepts arouse different emotions in the mind of the consumers during the evaluation of the packaging materials and ­tasting of the samples," co-lead author Nadeesha ­Gunaratne said.

"This further confirms that the packaging concept affects how people perceive the taste of the product.

 

Researchers have found the packaging of chocolate affects our enjoyment of it as much as the ingredients do.
Researchers have found the packaging of chocolate affects our enjoyment of it as much as the ingredients do.

"This makes packaging a very important factor for food manufacturers since the ­function of packaging design is not only to attract ­consumers' attention but also to ­convey expectations of how that food product will be ­sensory perceived."

Study participants liked the taste of the chocolate more when it was wrapped in packaging that was associated with emotions such as happy, bright, relaxing, peaceful and friendship.

Despite this, the tasters ­reported that they liked some chocolate less when it came in the bold, fun, every day and premium wrapping compared to when they tasted it without any wrapping at all.

This was partly because the chocolate inside (plain, dark) didn't match the ­expectations generated by some of the wrapping, which suggested chilli flavours, or chewy candy or premium nuts and berries.

susan.obrien@news.com.au