Catering industry continuously strives to attract customers through various means, the most important criterion being the taste of food they offer. Once the customer is "captured", further effort is made to see that customers enjoy the experience of eating for ensuring repeat visits. While color schemes and interior decor are known to increase business for many modern eateries, the effect of different types of music is relatively less known. Frequent complaints about foods served in flights or in trains have now been attributed to the background noise generated by the engines which does reach the ears of the passengers, in spite of most modern technology deployed for noise reduction. According to new research findings, even good and tasty foods, if eaten in an environment of high noise are likely to taste bland and appropriately selected music can even enhance the taste perception.
"The research clearly showed that the presence of loud noise dulled the perception of taste, but enjoyable music could enhance the eating experience. Woods said the findings suggested for example, that salad bar serving crunchy salads might benefit from louder music, but a restaurant serving salty food should turn the music down. The findings could help restaurateurs select the best music and ambient sounds to maximize their customers' enjoyment of their meals. Unilever intends to continue the research to try to find the explanation for the effects found. One possibility is that the noise might distort the brain's ability to interpret the sense of taste, or it might simply distract the diner from the flavors of the meal".
The million dollar question is whether adequate scientific data exist to guide high end restaurants regarding the type of music most suitable to the offerings offered to the customers and if not who will unravel the mysterious connection between music and taste perception. It is not understood as to why there should be any music at all in a restaurant where people congregate for eating good food and get maximum culinary satisfaction. Serving food in public functions is secondary to the main activity and therefore the culinary quality may not be critical but in a restaurant eating is the main activity and no distraction is desirable.