When you think of the word “crispy”, what foods come to mind? Is it popcorn, French fries, potato chips or crispy chocolate wafers? We took a look at some research to try and explain why we love crispy foods.
1. Sign of freshness
The crisp crunch of a biscuit or a French fry is a very strong indicator of how fresh the food is. Biologically, we are attracted to fresh-tasting foods so that we might avoid stale or contaminated foods.
The crispiness of food is usually related to it having been cooked in oil. Oil is a nutrient-dense food and we are hardwired to want to eat it whenever we can. This could be why crispy chips with tomato sauce are so hard to resist!
Differences in texture make food interesting – if everything feels the same in your mouth you could find the meal boring or dull. Chefs know to include different textures, such as crispy, chewy, smooth, creamy and soft, throughout the whole dish to create an interactive experience. Feeling different sensations in your mouth and on your teeth can help you identify your food, and with more sensory information for your brain to process, you will be more focused on the food and engaged in the process of eating.
Crunchiness is perhaps one of the only food sensations that you can hear – and that other people can hear too! Sound is an important part of human interaction and socialising, which might be why crispy foods like nachos and chicken nuggets are such great party food. Studies have found that most Americans perceive crunchy food to “be appealing and enjoyable” and associate it with “pleasure and fun, regarded with warmth, and described as active, energetic, and appealing”.
“Sound affects the experience of food,” says Charles Spence, PhD of the University of Oxford. “The noise draws attention to the mouth in the way something silent does not. If you’re eating pâté, your attention can drift elsewhere, to a television or to a dining companion. But a crunch will draw your attention to what you’re eating, making you concentrate on it. Noisy foods make you think about them.”