The product was developed by a vegan food company hoping to change people's eating habits.

By Jelisa Castrodale
Updated January 29, 2020
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Oxford professor Charles Spence heads up the prestigious university's Crossmodal Research Laboratory, where he studies the way our five senses interact, and how that can affect the way our brains process sensory information. One of his early research papers, which was published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, determined that the sound of a Pringles potato chip crunching in our mouths can influence whether or not we think the chip is from a newly opened can or not. (The louder that crunch, the fresher the chip seems, and vice-versa.)

Some of his other studies have examined whether music can affect how sweet or how bitter a piece of chocolate tastes (apparently it can), how the shape of a glass can change the way that beer tastes, and whether bacon and egg ice cream tasted "more bacony" when it was served to the sound of sizzling bacon.

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Spence's CV seems to have made him an obvious resource when a plant-based food company wanted to develop a wearable patch that could help carnivorous eaters curb their cravings for meat products.

The Telegraph reports that Spence worked with Irish startup Strong Roots on its "meat patch," which emits the smell of bacon every time you scratch it. (Yes, just like those stickers you used to put on the front of your school notebooks.) "Studies have shown that scent can reduce food cravings," Spence said in a statement. “Our sense of smell is strongly connected to our ability to taste therefore experiencing food related cues such as smelling a bacon aroma, can lead us to imagine the act of eating that food. Imagine eating enough bacon and you might find yourself sated."

And, as a company that makes products like cauliflower hash browns and pumpkin and spinach burgers, Strong Roots obviously hopes that the patch will help push bacon-eaters over to the plant-heavy side of the food chain. "Brits keen to adopt a vegetarian diet are about to get scientifically-proven help to wean them off their love of meat," a Strong Roots spokesperson said. "It comes after a study of 2,000 adults found that between cigarettes, alcohol and meat, meat is the hardest to give up."

The patch is not yet available to the public, but it will be tested this weekend in a number of English cities, including Leeds, Liverpool, London, and Reading. The meat-patch has been endorsed by professional boxer and Love Island runner-up Tommy Fury, who says that he's wearing it in an effort to cut back on meat and "eat more healthier [sic]" in 2020. "Now I can have quick and easy meat-free meals, packed full of flavour and great ingredients to give me the energy I need for work-outs, whenever I want," he wrote on Instagram.

But does the meat patch hit your olfactory receptors differently based on whatever you're playing through your AirPods? Or if you stick it on a curved glass? The possibilities are endless—or maybe they all just smell like bacon. We're clearly not experimental psychologists here.