Tomato juice is a 'love it or hate it' kind of drink. If you sit in the ‘hate it’ camp, have you tried tomato juice at 30,000 feet? You should, says science

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Image: This is why you want to drink tomato juice on a plane

Photo: Pete /  CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: comedynose

We’ve all been there: you’re on a plane when suddenly you have an unexpected urge to order a tomato juice or a bloody mary. And it's surprising because quite frankly, it doesn’t normally make an appearance as part of your standard drinking repertoire.


The red stuff really comes into its own at 30,000 feet and, according to Cornell University, it’s all down to the noise levels when airborne.


Scientists found that increased decibels on a flight affected the palate and enhanced the ‘umami’ taste (otherwise known as a term for savoury) that's found in tomato juice. British Airways has already created a 13-track playlist to make their airline food taste better, but this is the first time the humble tomato juice has been singled out.


Robin Dando, assistant professor at the department of food science at Cornell University, said: “Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised.


“Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced."


Volunteers sat in an airbus A310 and the air pressure, noise and flying conditions of a normal flight were replicated.


The experiment found that at normal pressure, tomato juice was scored much lower and described as ‘musty’. When the flight simulation started, volunteers found the juice ‘more pleasantly fruity’.


Finally, something you can consume in-flight that’s not just 'plane' awful. Unlike these airline meals, which are pretty upsetting.