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We report on the results of a series of large-scale computer-based preference tests (conducted at The Science Museum in London and online) that evaluated the widely-held belief that food should be plated in odd rather than even numbers of elements in order to maximize the visual appeal of a dish. Participants were presented with pairs of plates of food showing odd versus even number of seared scallops (3 vs. 4; 1-6 in Experiment 7), arranged in a line, as a polygon or randomly, on either a round or square white plate. No consistent evidence for a preference for odd or even numbers of food items was found, thus questioning the oft-made assertion that odd number of items on a plate looks better than an even number. The implications of these results are discussed.

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Eye appeal, Food aesthetics, Food liking, Gastrophysics, Mechanical Turk, Odd vs. even, Plating, Prolific academic, Visual presentation