You’re not a lush. You crave airplane Bloody Marys for a reason

Bloody Mary

The noise on an airplane can make your Bloody Mary taste better, according to a new study by Cornell University. Pictured is a Cole’s regular Bloody Mary in Los Angeles. 

(Ringo H.W. Chiu / For The Los Angeles Times)

There’s a scientific reason behind your frequent airplane Bloody Mary cravings.  

According to a new study by Cornell University, the 85 decibels you hear up in the air can actually make some food taste better.

“Our study confirmed that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised,” said Robin Dando, assistant professor of food science at Cornell in a release. “Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced.”

Umami is a Japanese term for the savory taste created by a type of amino acid called glutamate, and ribonucleotides called inosinate and guanylate. 


According to the Umami Information Center, glutamate occurs naturally in meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. When you’re in the air, the noise boosts the umami in the tomato juice. 

The German airline Lufthansa has been aware of this taste phenomenon for a couple years now. They noticed they were serving 53,000 gallons of tomato juice a year compared to 59,000 gallons of beer a year.  So they hired the Fraunhofer Society German research institute to investigate. Researchers found people in a flight simulator said tomato juice tasted better in the simulator than outside it. 

Here’s to hoping an all-tomato tasting menu, with Bloody Mary pairings, will be available the next time you’re cruising at 30,000 feet. 

And if we’ve put you in the mood for a Bloody Mary, here are four Bloody Mary recipes to make down here on the ground. 


Bloody Marys should be spicy. Follow me on Twitter @Jenn_Harris_


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