The psychology of condiments: A review
© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Condiments and sauces constitute a ubiquitous presence on dinner tables the world over. Yet, that said, they have received surprisingly little serious scientific attention from researchers interested in gastronomy and food science. Here, I take a closer look at the psychology behind our choice of condiments, both when selecting what to purchase on the supermarket shelf, and when deciding which condiment(s) will best compliment a particular dish. Not only do condiments enhance the taste/flavour of a dish (e.g., they often contain flavour-enhancing elements such as salt and umami), but they may also be used to add some colour/textural interest to whatever is being consumed. And, as argued in this review, the actual taste experience (of the condiment/sauce) is often determined as much by the packaging/branding as by the product itself. Indeed, condiments are amongst the strongest and best-loved brands in the marketplace. Hence studying what has allowed them to be so successful for so long likely holds some important lessons for the design of many other food and beverage categories as well. This review of the literature is targeted at those working in the manufacturing/marketing of condiments.