Thursday, March 6, 2014

"A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet."

On Valentine's Day, I became recipient of flowers: a real rose from the boys in the lab and a pastillas shaped and colored like a rose. The edible flower didn't have a card on it so I thought it was left on my desk by mistake. But since nobody claimed it by the end of the day, I claimed it for my own before the ants had a chance to attack it.


The roses brought back memories of junior year in high school. Ms Apalin was introducing the class to the timeless plays of Shakespeare, starting with the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet. One of the passages stuck to my mind: 

"What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"

Food scientists and marketing researchers would disagree, however. A product's success is attributable to its naming and branding strategy. In one of the industry-oriented immersions I've been through, I noticed that product developers were very concerned with the images brand names conjure in the minds of consumers. It's not just the name though: people also attach meaning to the sound of the name.

Favalli et al. (2013) refer to this as sound symbolism. The authors mentioned that the name of a food item not only refers to the sensory attributes of the food but to the consumers' overall experience. I agree. For example, I associate the word "sinigang" not only with the sour soup, the meat, and the vegetables; I also associate the word "sinigang" with fun Sunday lunches with my parents and siblings and with dinners with my aunts. Most likely, I favor sinigang over other viands not solely because of the savory flavors; I also love it because I usually eat it with people who I feel at home with.

Of the rose pastillas? Turned out it really was for me. Yum! 

Thanks, Matty!


Favalli, S., T. Skov, C. Spence, D.V. Byrne. 2013. "Do you say it like you eat it? The sound symbolism of food names and its role in multisensory product experience." Food Research International 54: 760-771.