Would you try French fries with soy sauce? Anticipated and experienced fit of traditional and novel condiment-food combinations.

Hiraguchi, H.; Bergen, G. van; Wijk, R.A. de; Ushiama, S.; Ummels, M.J.; Kaneko, D.; Vingerhoeds, M.H.


With the increasing globalization, foods from other cultures become available to western consumers. Condiments with familiar flavors are often used by consumers to make these unfamiliar foods more acceptable. The aim of the study is to investigate how consumers determine whether a condiment fits a specific food. Insights in these mechanisms may facilitate the integration of foods from different food cultures into a new food culture.
In this study, Dutch participants determined the fit between six familiar condiments and a selection of 30 full meals and 30 meal components. In the first on-line survey, 1000 participants judged the fit based on images and names of condiments and images of foods. In the second on-line study, 150 participants replicated the first study except that the condiment was not only shown and named, but was tasted as well. Finally, the validity of the results from studies 1 and 2 was tested in a third study where 59 participants were actually presented in a laboratory with condiment-food combinations that were selected from the previous studies based on their relatively low and high fit ratio.
The results showed that:
1. Overall, fit scores based on images of foods and flavors correlated significantly with fit scores during actual tasting.
2. Participants underestimated the actual fit of food/flavor combinations when the fit was based on images of foods and flavors.
3. The mechanisms behind fit scores based on images and actual tasting may be partly different. Whereas familiarity with the flavor and food were significantly associated with the fit responses based on the images, familiarity was not associated with fit responses based on actual tasting.
In conclusion, the results demonstrate that food evaluations based on images can not completely replace food taste evaluations, even though both types of evaluations show commonalities.