Friday, September 28, 2007

Reading and eating: a perfect marriage

Did anyone see Dwight Garner’s entry in the New York Times blog "Paper Cuts" on September 12? He discusses the longstanding relationship between reading and eating, including insightful comments about the benefits of doing both simultaneously and the potential benefits of printing poetry on cereal boxes. I highly recommend it!

Reading his piece reminded me that while I was at this year’s Book Expo in New York City, I found an unusual booth tucked away on the lower level of the exhibition—a booth sponsored by the Taste Science Laboratory at Cornell University. Staffers there were soliciting volunteers for a survey: subjects would suck on a peppermint, then fill out a questionnaire about their experience of the mint and their reading habits and preferences. The Cornell scientists were betting they would find a connection.

Well, of course I couldn’t resist—and I wasn’t about to turn down a free peppermint. I enjoyed a tasty candy and then answered some interesting, sometimes offbeat questions. I remember having to draw a line with my dominant hand and then with my other hand. I remember having to rate the coolness of the mint on a graded scale. It was absolutely fascinating. You can read a summary of last year's Book Expo survey results (Cornell conducted the same survey in 2006) on the Taste Science Lab's Web site.

Now I need to have lunch!


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