The official term, in case you ever need it for a pub quiz, is rheology, which basically means the consistency and flow of food. This explains why we would eat a handful of candyfloss but not a handful of sugar, even though our brain knows they are essentially the same thing.
Thanks to an explosion of cooking shows and accessibility to different ingredients, texture has become increasingly important to the everyday consumer. For example, Senior Research Scientist Dr Esra Cakir-Fuller says it’s a well-known fact that customers like creamy milk but improving creaminess can be challenging.
“The easiest way to make a substance creamier is to add more fat, but that impacts nutrition so one of the things we are looking at is how we can create a more creamy sensory experience without incorporating more fat.”
Professor Joanne Hort, Fonterra-Riddet Chair in Consumer and Sensory Science agrees saying the trend towards healthier products is pushing scientists to better understand the building blocks of our products.
“Consumers are asking us to take out things which are seen as unhealthy, things like sugar and salt so as researchers we are looking at the structures of different products. We need to work out what textures things like salt, sugar, and fat give and then find ways to mimic them once they have been removed.”