Sweetness does not equal refreshing

January 28, 2009

Scientists from the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, used a gel model system to understand how different sensory attributes combine to produce a refreshing sensation. The researchers formulated a range of gel products containing a mint odorant, a peach odorant, a cooling agent, citric acid, and a thickener. A group of 160 target consumers rated the refreshing intensity of the gels and a trained sensory panel evaluated the sensory properties of the same gels using Quantitative Descriptive Analysis. An internal preference mapping methodology was applied to identify the contribution of the products’ sensory characteristics to the refreshing scores given by consumers.

Consumers agreed that the least refreshing gels were the sweetest. However, the group differed regarding the sensory drivers of the most refreshing gels. Three segments of consumers were identified for which refreshing was driven mainly by perception of cold/mint, acid, and thickness. The researchers concluded that the “study showed that refreshing sensation resulted from a combination of several independent sensory dimensions differing according to the consumer group. These differences of key sensory drivers according to consumers might be explained by food experience. In addition, refreshing seemed positively associated with preference.”

The study is published in Food Quality and Preference.