What makes foods and flavours fit? Consumer perception of (un)usual product combinations

G. van Bergen*, S. Ushiama, D. Kaneko, G.B. Dijksterhuis, R.A. de Wijk, M.H. Vingerhoeds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Some foods and flavours go better together than others, but the success of novel food combinations is difficult to predict. The current study investigated to what extent perceptual, conceptual and affective pairing principles influence consumer evaluations of usual and unusual product combinations. Dutch consumers (N = 177) evaluated two sweet-tasting food products (vanilla ice cream, chocolate custard) combined with three flavour products (coffee, soy sauce, fish sauce) in terms of congruence, liking and sensory qualities. Product combinations occurred in three conditions (between-subjects): flavour products were either mixed with the carrier foods beforehand (Premix) or presented separately from the carriers, and were either accompanied with a flavour description (Label) or not (No-Label). Results showed that consumer evaluations were influenced by a combination of perceptual (balance of intensity), conceptual (norms) and affective (surprise) pairing principles. Moreover, usual (coffee) combinations were appreciated more, and unusual (soy/fish sauce) combinations less, if flavour products were identified, but flavour identification effects were mediated by the moment of identification (before vs. after tasting). Findings highlight the cognitive nature of food pairing principles, and the power of language in predicting successful food pairings in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104680
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Expectations
  • Food-flavour pairing
  • Hedonic perception
  • Language
  • Pairing principles
  • Sensory perception


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