Bliss point (food)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The bliss point is the amount of an ingredient such as salt, sugar or fat which optimizes deliciousness (in the formulation of food products).


Pioneering work on the bliss point was carried out by American market researcher and psychophysicist Howard Moskowitz, known for his successful work in product creation and optimization for foods ranging from spaghetti sauce to soft drinks.[1] Moskowitz used the term, bliss point, to describe "that sensory profile where you like food the most."[2][3]

The bliss point for salt, sugar, or fat is a range within which perception is that there is neither too much nor too little, but the "just right" amount of saltiness, sweetness, or richness. The human body has evolved to favor foods delivering these tastes: the brain responds with a "reward" in the form of a jolt of endorphins, remembers what we did to get that reward, and makes us want to do it again, an effect run by dopamine, a neurotransmitter. The human body needs salt for balancing fluids, sugar for energy, and fat for composing the brain.[4] Besides the physical and taste need for sugar, salt, and fat, foods that contain high amounts of these ingredients are typically visually appealing. The visual appeal can override suppressing appetite hormones for many people to consume these goods.[5] Combinations of sugar, fat, and salt act synergistically, and are more rewarding than any one alone. In food product optimization, the goal is to include two or three of these nutrients at their bliss point.[6]

Applications of the bliss point in the food industry have been criticized for encouraging addiction-like behaviors around eating which may contribute to obesity and other health issues.[1][6]


Using 9 experiments, the relationship between pleasantness, sweetness, and concentrations of various sugars was able to be determined. This was conducted by Howard R. Moskowitz at the Pioneering Research Laboratory. Using the results of his studies and those from other scientists, Moskowitz was able to provide some science behind the idea of Bliss Point.

Set up

During the first 7 experiments, 32 sugars were judged based on sweetness and pleasantness. This was done by separate groups of observers, chosen from a pool of 63 volunteers. For the eighth experiment only 10 sugars were judged by 12 observers. And for the final experiment, only glucose and tagatose were judged by 13 observers.


Each observer was trained to match numbers to stimuli based on apparent length and area. There was no restriction to the number scale. Therefore, the scientist has to standardize the modulus of each observer. The 5 glucose stimuli that were given to each observer were multiplied by a factor that made the mean equal to 10. This served as a standardized scale across all 9 experiments. Using this method guaranteed the ratios of each observer's judgments and the slope of the sweetness function, S = kC^n (S: sweetness, C: concentration, k: relative sweetness), was unaffected.


All the results were analyzed through PSYCHOFIT, a computer program that provided summary statistics and least-squares estimates. The results showed that the relative sweetness of sugars changes across all concentrations similarly; meaning it is nontonic. The pleasantness of sugars are not monotonic with concentration. However, the results show they depart from linearity at the extremes of concentration.[7]

Health effects[edit]

Around the world people purchase and consume foods and drinks that are engineered to create the bliss point sensation. This has led to increased rates of negative health effects like:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

Common Foods Engineered for Bliss Point[edit]

Most people assume foods that are engineered to create the bliss point would be sweets. For example, biscuits, cake, chocolate, chips, etc.. These are the more obvious items that capitalize on its effects. However, a multitude of foods are not considered as bliss point items. These items include sauces, soups, dressings, etc.. If people took the time to check the ingredients, it would be evident that these grocery items contain high amounts of sugar, salt, and/or fat.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Michael Moss (February 20, 2013). "The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food". The New York Times Magazine. Archived from the original on March 31, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  2. ^ Michels, Scott (2016-01-03). "Bliss Point: How Food Companies Make Us Crave Their Products". Retro Report. Retrieved Jan 16, 2023.
  3. ^ Here & Now Staff (December 16, 2015). "How The Food Industry Helps Engineer Our Cravings". NPR. Retrieved Jan 16, 2023.
  4. ^ Rao, Pingfan; Rodriguez, Raymond L.; Shoemaker, Sharon P. (2018-07-16). "Addressing the sugar, salt, and fat issue the science of food way". npj Science of Food. 2: 12. doi:10.1038/s41538-018-0020-x. ISSN 2396-8370. PMC 6550161. PMID 31304262.
  5. ^ "OpenAthens / Sign in". Retrieved 2023-12-04.
  6. ^ a b "Biology of Food: The Bliss Point". Indiana University (Department of Biology). Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 2 April 2015. From Biology of Food, Dept. of Biology, Indiana University.
  7. ^ Moskowitz, Howard R. (1971). "The Sweetness and Pleasantness of Sugars". The American Journal of Psychology. 84 (3): 387–405. doi:10.2307/1420470. ISSN 0002-9556. JSTOR 1420470. PMID 5142585.
  8. ^ "Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle , Travel". The Capsule. 2022-11-17. Retrieved 2023-12-04.