Thanks to airline cutbacks, complaining about the quality of airline food isn’t as common as it used to be. But if you’re still searching for an explanation to every ‘80s comedians’ favorite premise on why the food always sucks during air travel, new research might have another new theory: the noise.
In a recent study out of Cornell University, researchers gave 48 subjects different liquid solutions of different tastes – either sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami – at different concentrations. Some participants, however, were in a room with normal ambient noise while others were in a room that simulated the cabin noise of an airplane. Oddly, only sweet and umami flavors were rated differently, with sweet flavors coming across as more muted and umami flavors as being more intense.
“An enhancement of umami could make foods rich in umami taste better,” study author Robin Dando was quoted as saying in Time. “Tomato juice is packed with umami, and I’ve always wondered why it seems like everyone drinks it on planes; this could be a reason.”
Researchers think these findings could lead to better airplane food in the future. Or maybe instead of putting the onus on airline chefs, maybe those designing planes could figure out how to make a quieter plane. Trying to hear the movies through those crappy headphones is hard enough already!