NPR’s All Things considered had an interesting piece last week about the work of Condiment Junkie – a British ‘creative agency specialising in sensory branding’. The firm which specializes in sound design, has done research to see if (and more importantly how) people can tell the difference between hot and cold beverages being poured, to make a beer sound colder, or in the case of Twining’s make the tea sound piping hot on their commercials.
In their research they found that 96% of participants could tell the difference. NPR’s own informal web poll (now closed) found that 80% correctly identified the ‘cold’ audio and 90% the ‘hot’ audio.
The follow-up piece digs briefly into what exactly makes the sounds so identifiable.
Cold water is more viscous, or sticky, than hot water. That’s what makes that high pitched ringing, and it’s what tells your brain ‘This water is cold!’ before you even take a sip.