Dim Mood Lighting at Restaurants Actually Makes Your Food Taste Worse, Apparently

For more intense flavor, you may be better off under the fluorescent lights of a fast food joint

dinner date
These fools who obviously should have gone to Taco Bell instead probably can't even taste their food.
Getty Images

Dim lighting is a staple of the high-end dining experience, but according to a recent study, it might actually have a negative effect on a more central aspect of that experience: the food.

The study, conducted by business and psychology researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands and published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, found that low lighting had a negative effect on diners’ perception of food quality, resulting in a more muted taste.

Researchers asked 138 participants to dine on a four-course meal at a restaurant under various lighting conditions, rating the “taste intensity” and noting the dining room’s lighting.

“Guests in the bright ambient light condition rated the overall taste as more intense as opposed to guests in the dim ambient light condition,” said researchers, per the Telegraph. “The illuminance level was perceived as equally pleasant in both the bright and dim ambient light condition.”

So while dim, romantic lighting might help set the mood for a luxury dining experience, it may also impede your ability to fully enjoy that gourmet meal you’re splurging on. If it’s flavor intensity you’re truly after, one might be better off dining on a Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos taco under the bright lights of Taco Bell. (This post is not sponsored by Taco Bell.)


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