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Hacking my Brain with Castello

This post is sponsored by Castello

Castello is already a household brand in the UK thanks to their blue cheeses and cheddar. This year, they’ve launched brand new Extra Creamy Brie. To celebrate, Castello wanted me to take part in a little Virtual Reality experiment that attempts to ‘hack the brain’ and manipulate the senses to affect the eating experience.

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I was surprised to learn that Castello dates back to around 1893, when their first Master Cheese Maker (Rasmus Tholstrop) travelled the globe sampling different cheeses for himself and then reinventing them. He always respected the traditions of cheese making but his imagination and creativity helped him to produce something special – and that theme has been continued for Costello throughout the years, hence this unique campaign.

The brand new Extra Creamy Brie is a creatively crafted and indulgent cheese, one I’d be happy to present with the best of them on my Christmas cheese board. As it turns out though, there are ways to make it appear even more indulgent with a few tricks of the mind..

The idea behind this delightfully nerdy experiment is this: ‘hack’ each of your senses one by one in order to actually change the way you experience the cheese. Creative Neuroscientist Katherine Templar Lewis was behind the research and set up for everything you’re about to see. It’s all pure, unadulterated science. It’s absolutely fascinating. So, without further ado, let’s look at how I hacked each of my senses and how it affected my cheese eating experience, shall we?

Touch

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This experiment was designed to explore how the different utensils can affect our eating experience. I was given a lovely, heavy, copper spoon and a cheap, weak, plastic spoon and instructed to taste equal amounts of Extra Creamy Brie on each and record how I felt.

I wasn’t expecting the difference between each utensil to be quite so stark. It was fascinating. As I suspected, the creaminess of the cheese was amplified when I was using the copper spoon, but I wasn’t prepared for quite how much it would be amplified by.

Extra Creamy Brie from the plastic spoon was tasty enough. However, eating it from the copper spoon was a far more pleasurable experience. The cheese was creamy, the cold temperature of the spoon when it touched my lips and the sheer weight of it made it feel all the more luxurious. It was like eating two different cheeses.

Visual

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This experiment was designed to see how different colours affected our perception of creaminess – Castello were looking specifically for which colours provided the ultimate creaminess, otherwise known as the ‘abstract second realm’. I was to really take in the colour of each of the above plates (red, white and black) then eat equal sized pieces of brie from them.

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I’ll be honest, I started out by not taking this one hugely seriously. I really didn’t see how looking at a plate could possibly change anything. I was so wrong.

My experience of both red and black plates were nondescript really, but I got the shock of my life when I sampled cheese from the white plate. I looked at the plate for 20 seconds straight (as I did with both others) then popped the cube of cheese in my mouth and gasped. It practically melted on my tongue it was so creamy, I was in shock. In fact, I made Tom carry out the experiment too to ensure I wasn’t imagining things (his reaction was exactly the same).

Auditory

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This, interestingly, is the only experiment at which my brain appears to have failed me. I was instructed to listen to two different tracks, one at a lower, slower tempo and one at a higher pitch and speed, and take note of how each track affected the creaminess and sweetness of the cheese.

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I actually found that the slower track made the cheese creamiest for me. Meltier even than the piece that shocked me from the white plate. I had Tom try this one too and he felt the same. On reading the notes I was provided with it became apparent that this puts us out of the norm. Perhaps we had hacked our brains a little too hard..

Conclusion

Finito! I’ll admit, on starting this experiment I was sceptical but open minded. I adore things like this, but always presume that they’re more to do with the suggestive nature of the brain than they are to do with actual physical, visual or auditory queues. I was delighted to be proved wrong.

If you want to grab yourself some Castello Extra Creamy Brie (if you do, eat it from a white plate with a copper spoon) you’ll find it in ASDA and Sainsbury’s for £2. Find out more about Castello on their website and make sure you’re following them @CastelloUK too!

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