Why Chocolate Makes Some People See Pink

Photo: Ray Tang/Rex/REX USA
If you were to ask Kanye West what chocolate tastes like, he might not describe a medley of bitter and sweet flavors. Instead, he might simply sum it up as the color pink. But that wouldn't just be Kanye being Kanye. It would just be his synesthesia talking. A new study published in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience explored how people like Kanye with synesthesia "see" smells and flavors. Confused? Let's back up for a moment. Kanye is one of the 2 to 4% of the population, including other A-listers like Pharrell, Charli XCX, and Mary J. Blige, whose brains sometimes flip-flop their sensory experiences. For instance, West has described how he visually sees sounds: Piano is blue and bass vibrates brown and purple. This new research asked six "olfactory-visual synesthetes," or academic speak for people who "see" scents, to sniff and taste a variety of odors and foods and describe what images their brains cooked up. The researchers' major takeaway is even highlighted in the study's title: "Chocolate smells pink and stripy." Yum. Unfortunately, Kanye hasn't gone on the record about whether he's also an olfactory-visual synesthete, so we can't say for certain whether these study findings directly apply to him. But if that's the case, Kanye would make the best-ever Top Chef judge. And that's a scientific fact.

More from Food & Drinks

R29 Original Series