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Bored with your food? Study shows there's a way to make it taste new again

The same old, same old just got a total new makeover.
by Erica Chayes Wida / / Source: TODAY

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Have you ever wished you could taste your favorite food for the first time ... again?

A new study says it may be possible — and they didn't even invent a time machine!

Researchers at Ohio State University were curious as to whether boredom could be beat by an unconventional approach to doing the "same old thing" in a new way, and they used food to make the case.

Eating in unconventional ways can improve flavor.
Eating in unconventional ways can improve flavor.Ana Livecchi/Ohio State University

Through a series of tests, OSU assistant professor of marketing Robert Smith and Ed O’Brien of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, explored how subjects reacted to food, water and videos with a renewed sense of enjoyment when they broke traditional habits and did something more peculiar.

“The more we eat of something, the less we enjoy it," Smith told TODAY Food. "In our research, we find that people don’t experience this same lowering of enjoyment when they consume food in new ways, such as eating popcorn with chopsticks or drinking water out of a champagne glass."

In the popcorn portion of the study, for example, 68 people thought they were part of an experiment focused on eating slower. Half of the study participants ate 10 kernels of popcorn one at a time the way one usually does — with their hands — and the other half also ate one popcorn kernel at a time ... but with chopsticks. All subjects were asked to rate how much they enjoyed the popcorn, as well as how flavorful and fun it was to eat.

The chopstick group reported a better, "more immersed" experience. They felt more focused on the food and could taste it intensely. When both groups repeated the experiment, however, everyone reported a similar experience. This, Smith said, proved the chopsticks affected flavor as an "unusual first-time experience, not because they are a better way to eat popcorn."

Smith and his team also observed 300 people drink water in "fresh, new and fun" ways — like sipping it from martini glasses, drinking from a shipping envelope and even lapping it up like a cat. All of these interesting methods provided reportedly improved water-drinking experiences.

So when it comes to reinventing your favorite flavors, the world's your oyster ... even with oysters! Maybe you overdid it at the raw bar a few years back. But if you try sliding an oyster from shell to shot glass and shooting it with a little mignonette, it could completely revamp the experience.

Smith said the same goes for pizza and a very popular summertime treat.

"Even something as odd as eating your ice cream with a fork is a lot more enjoyable than people think," he told TODAY Food.

When chowing down on a few slices of pizza, eat one regularly, then try eating it with utensils and then fold it ... the correct way, of course!

Suggested Smith, "Next time you find yourself zoning out and bored with an old favorite food, try consuming it in an unusual way."

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