Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The Science of Menus or How Red Lobster Became Classy


Think they just toss some items on a menu under their appropriate categories? Think again.

There’s an actual science behind where each item is placed on a menu in order to get you to spend the most money.

Here’s some of their secrets. You can check out the entire article on Forbes Traveler.

One of the reasons the tabs are going up is because of something you probably don’t realize. Then again, you’re not supposed to realize it: the secret science of menu psychology. Smart chefs (or their menu consultants) know that when most of you open a menu, your eyes go right to the top of the page on the right side. And, armed with that knowledge, chefs place the menu item that will give them the most profit at the top of the page. Hence, it soon becomes their biggest seller. Then, your eyes normally drift to the center of the page. That’s where many chefs place their absolutely most expensive item. They do that not because they expect you to buy that item, but because the psychology of menus indicates you’ll probably then look at the items immediately above and below the high ticket item and order one of those. Again, those two items rank second and third for generating profits.

There’s also a psychology to how menu items are priced.

• Not surprisingly, there is a migration toward higher price points. People buy brands, and food is an easy indulgence. That’s why we buy $4 Starbucks over fifty cent convenience store coffee.

• Price rounding psychology only works with lower-priced items: Someone will buy a $1.99 taco, but not one sold at $2. On higher priced items at upscale restaurants, it’s all called hip, minimalist pricing, and items are rounded up. That big steak in the fine dining restaurant isn’t $38.95, it’s $39.

• What’s the price barrier? $20 is the tipping point for casual dining restaurants. You won’t see many items at PF Changs or Cheesecake Factory above $19.99.

• Restaurants have also learned that pictures sell food, but pictures also pull down the perception of overall quality. Denny’s and IHop use pictures, but Red Lobster is becoming more upscale and stopped using photos last year. Their price points – and their profits – went up.

Not only has Red Lobster stopped using pictures, but they’re totally reinventing their restaurants.

A few weeks ago, the seafood chain, owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, launched a marketing campaign designed to highlight an expanded fresh fish menu and other new culinary creations.

Sensing that some consumers associate Red Lobster with frozen seafood and dining rooms cluttered with fishing memorabilia, executives have been tweaking its look and feel.

Several months ago, Red Lobster introduced a daily rotating menu of fresh fish selections.

The chain also tested a sleeker restaurant design — meant to evoke the Maine coast — that it says will be used as the model for new restaurants. (from the Orlando Sentinel)

And on a related note, Red Lobster actually won an award for the Best Menu Revamp in 1999, but after reading the above you can probably tell that didn’t work out so well.

Lets just hope they keep that delicious cheesey wine biscuits on the tables. In case you haven’t tried them, or if you just want to make it at home, here’s the recipe.

Photo from Flickr.


The Color of Beer

Color of Beer

Designers get inspiration from anything. Art, nature, literally anything.

Even when they’re drunk. Or at least drinking.

And to prove this the folks at Colourlovers have a blog post on various beers and the color palettes of their accompanying hops & barely.

Beer is the world’s oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage. It is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starch-based material—the most common being malted barley; however wheat, corn, and rice are also widely used, usually in conjunction with the barley.

We chose several beers of different types and found colors that were warm browns and golden yellows, even some amber reds and oranges… while even serving some deep, rich browns in the darker beers.

Above is one for your viewing pleasure, and click here for the rest.

But that’s just a sample. Apparently scientific research has been done on the color of beer. I present the Lovibond Tintometer Readings for Various Beers.

Readings were recorded in CMY, rather than sample luminance and 2 primaries (the traditional Tintometer technique) to allow a more intuitive interpretation of the results. All measurements made with a 1 cm path length using a Lovibond Tintometer Model E.

Whatever that means…

And speaking of beer, if you’re in need of some new beer glasses, pick these up. These cool tumblers are recycled in Wisconsin from classic Mexican ‘Sol’ beer bottles. Set of 4 for $26.

Drinking Songs/Hangover Cures


I probably should’ve posted this before Cinco de Mayo, but here’s a great 45 song music mix that’ll put you in the drinking mood. Head over to Silly Pipe Dreams to download a zip file with all 45 songs, or pick and choose your favorites.

Some of my favorites include:

“Rudie Can’t Fail” – The Clash
“The View From The Afternoon” – Arctic Monkeys
“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” – George Thoroughgood
“The Power Of Positive Drinking” – Lou Reed
“Tubthumping” – Chumbwamba
“Wasted & Ready” – Ben Kweller
“Drunken Lullabies” – Flogging Molly
“Me Vs. Maradona Vs. Elvis” – Brand New
“Between The Bars” – Elliott Smith
“I Shall Be Free” – Bob Dylan
“Alcohol” – The Kinks

Then, once you’re nice and drunk and you pass out, you’ll most likely wake up hungover.

That’s when you can head over to where they suggest the 10 best hangover cures. They list some of the normal cures – aspirin, Gatorade, more liquor – but they also toss in some unique ones, including Tripe soup and a Korean stew.

Worth a shot when you wake up acting like Danny Devito.

Hot Rice – Just Add Cold Water

Hot Rice

I saw this on Boing Boing and thought I’d post it cause it’s pretty damn cool. Apparently Japanese scientists can do just about anything, including turning your cold tap water into piping hot water able to cook rice.

An environmental consulting firm and other developers here have come up with a non-perishable food pack that creates steaming hot rice with the simple addition of cold water.

The group has recently introduced the product, named “Hotto! Raisu,” to the market.

By subjecting rice to 4,000 times normal atmospheric pressure, the developers were able to preserve rice for long periods in a soft form that holds moisture. When water is poured over an exothermic agent in the pack, steam warms the rice contained within, and after about 15 minutes, the dish is piping hot.

Officials say the product could be useful in areas that have been hit by natural disasters, when electricity is often unavailable. The product is not cheap, costing 10,000 yen for 30 packs with pickled ume plums, but its producers say they are ready to work on new ideas.

“If our sales increase, we want to work at developing new side dishes,” one official said.

Article and picture can be found here.

And according to yumsugar, right now the product is decently priced, (10,000 yen for 30 packs, or approximately $85 for 30), but I don’t know if that’s cheap enough to be ideal for natural disaster zones. Either way it’s still absolutely awesome.

I agree.