A humble fruit juice has been revealed as the drink you should be ordering when flying. So, push the call button and celebrate with a tasty glass of… tomato juice.
Have you ever experienced the urge to drink a glass of the red fruit juice on a plane, despite not going near the stuff while your feet are firmly planted on the ground?
You won’t be alone and experts have revealed there’s a scientific reason behind a craving for this oft-ignored drink.
Here’s all you need to know about why you could be ordering tomato juice on your next flight…
I don’t really like tomato juice though!
It’s true. While many people love the juice at any altitude, a large number say it tastes too ‘earthy’ or even ‘mouldy’ on terra firma. But this seems to change as the height it’s consumed at increases.
Is it really ‘a thing’ that tomato juice tastes better at altitude?
Some years ago, German airline Lufthansa checked its records and found staff served around 53,000 gallons of the juice annually, which was only marginally less than the amount of lager provided to thirsty passengers.
So why does tomato juice taste better in the skies?
Lufthansa wanted to know the same thing, so commissioned the Fraunhofer Society, a German research institute to find out.
The researchers found that low cabin pressure when cruising at altitude has several effects on your body. The blood gets less oxygen, which makes your smell and taste receptors less sensitive.
On top of this, mucous expands in nasal cavities, making it even harder to smell and taste. The controlled humidity in the plane’s cabin dries out your nose and mouth, which further dulls the senses.
This means the normally ‘earthy’ – and even ‘mouldy’ – taste of tomato juice becomes much sweeter and appealing when in the air.
At the same time, other drinks we usually prefer become bland and less attractive at altitude.
Any other reasons?
Yes! Tomato juice contains umami, a food flavour that most taste buds can detect, irrespective of their location. It is said to become far more effective at altitude and many chefs will add the flavour to counter bland-tasting low-sodium foods. It’s one of the reason for our enduring love of Ketchup.
The researchers also found the thicker consistency of tomato juice helped to settle stomachs of passengers who felt a little queasy in flight.
Does it work if I have a Bloody Mary?
Absolutely! Also, adding a dash of Worcester Sauce will also give a double hit of the umami flavour that tastes so good at altitude.