Revealed: Why Airline Food Tastes So Bland

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REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

Come on, it’s the burning question that’s been on your lips every time you hear those immortal words: meat or fish?

The wonderfully named journal Food Quality and Preference has concluded that, after carrying out tests on 48 blindfolded diners, the level of background noise can affect both the flavor and the perceived crunchiness of food. (See pictures of what the world eats.)

Andy Woods, a researcher from Unilever’s laboratories and the University of Manchester, told the BBC that, “I’m sure airlines do their best – and given that, we wondered if there are other reasons why the food would not be so good. One thought was perhaps the background noise has some impact.”

He extrapolated that this might be the reason for what goes on in air travel taking place even higher. “Nasa gives their space explorers very strong-tasting foods, because for some reason they can’t taste food that strongly – again, perhaps it’s the background noise.” (See a TIME package on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing.)

But NewsFeed has done some – ahem – number crunching of its own and can exclusively reveal the one sure-fire way to enjoy every meal you eat on board in future: fly in first class.