Oxford Researcher Claims Eating With Your Mouth Open Makes Food Tastier

Can you still hear the voice of a parental figure sternly warning, "Don't talk with your mouth full?" Talking while eating may still be a faux pas, but chewing is another story. As researchers scrutinize table manners from new perspectives, the idea of open-mouthed chewing is gaining traction even in the well-mannered halls of England's University of Oxford.

Professor Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist, tells The Telegraph that we've been way off-base when closing our lips to politely chew our food — and there are some pretty convincing scientific reasons to believe him.

It goes against the grain of table etiquette, for sure. In a Law in Contemporary Society collaboration by Columbia University professor Eben Moglen, contributing authors explore why table manners, including chewing with your mouth open, even exist. Eben cites reasons such as sensitivity to and respect for other people, creating uniform social expectations, and having consistency in daily routines. 

To alter such deeply ingrained habits may seem counteractive to "polite society," but that could change now.

Open up for more flavor

If Professor Spence holds sway with current gastronomy influencers, we could all be eating tastier food with one simple technique. There's no need to learn trendy new cooking methods or change ingredients in our favorite recipes. We simply need to open our mouths — when they're full. As he explains to The Telegraph, some foods have volatile organic compounds, harboring flavors and smells that make our meals appealing. Those compounds release when we chomp down on vegetables, fruits, and meats, creating a pleasurable sensation. But closing our mouths while eating releases fewer of the compounds, states Spence. Open-mouthed chewing, on the other hand, lets more of the aromatic compounds reach the back of our nose to trigger olfactory (smelling) sensory neurons. Simply put, what he calls "slack-jawed mastication" makes our food taste better.

And that's not all. The professor also points out how the world loves noisy, crunchy foods like chips, crackers, carrots, and apples. This appeals to the sense of sound — the louder, the better — which further enhances flavor sensations.

So go ahead, relax those jaws, enjoy the tastier food, and hope everyone around you embraces the science of it all.