Jelly Bean Taste Test: Understanding The Relationship Between Taste And Nostalgia

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Vyavahare, Teja N
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Nostalgia is defined as a bittersweet and sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period of time with happy personal associations. Having a healthy sense of nostalgia can improve one’s personal affect or mood, strengthen social connectedness, improve sense of self and empathy, and can also lead to reduced anxiety (Batcho 2018). This pilot study aimed to better understand the relationship between taste and nostalgia, and explore whether certain flavors commonly evoke a higher sense of nostalgia. Participants were asked to try 25 different jelly beans, visualize what the taste reminded them of and rate how familiar the flavor was, how comforted they felt by the flavor, and if the flavor evoked a sense of nostalgia for them. Each jelly bean was analyzed to see if participants as a whole rated it as being at least somewhat nostalgic, and the relationship between food nostalgia and comfort was analyzed using Pearson’s correlation coefficient. It was hypothesized that tastes which are most familiar and comforting to the participants would evoke a higher sense of nostalgia. We found a positive correlation between nostalgia and comfort in all 25 jelly beans, and a paired samples t-test showed a more significant result between favorite foods and nostalgia than most regularly eaten foods and nostalgia. Using these results, future research can delve further into the concept of comfort food and the social connections we make using food.
: Nostalgia, comfort food, taste, social connectedness, positive affect