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Birthday Ritual: Singing, Candles, Cake Cutting = Tastier Cake

MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) — The birthday ritual of off-key singing, wishing while blowing out candles and the ceremonial cake cutting may improve the cake’s taste, U.S. researchers say.

Professor Kathleen Vohs of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota Vohs and colleagues conducted four experiments to investigate if ritualistic behaviors might influence perception and consumption of various foods.

In the first experiment, some participants were asked to eat a piece of chocolate following a detailed set of instructions: “Without unwrapping the chocolate bar, break it in half. Unwrap half of the bar and eat it. Then, unwrap the other half and eat it.”

The other participants were simply instructed to relax for a short amount of time and then eat the chocolate bar in whatever fashion they wished.

The “ritual” group rated the chocolate more highly, savored it more, and were willing to pay more for the chocolate than the other group. The findings suggest that a short, fabricated ritual can produce real effects, Vohs said.

The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.

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