If you order something to drink on the plane, do you prefer to choose tomato juice? Then you are not alone and there is a scientific explanation why.
Every day, about eight million people travel by plane. In the stratosphere, when they chase in a metal tube, these people are doing pretty weird things. How to pay 10 euros for a can of beer, or they watch the episodes of the Golden Girls or buy something … in the SkyMall.
Favorite drink of almost all air travelers
But the strangest thing is our sudden thirst for tomato juice. The thick salty drink is not so popular at sea level, but for many passengers it is the first choice.
Everyone knows the taste of tomato juice. It does not taste moldy, but it’s a bit earthy – not too fresh. But as soon as we are 10,000 meters up, the thick red juice shows off its better side. It is more acidic, has a mineral taste and is very refreshing.
Low pressure in the airplane
And here is the reason why we feel that way: when we cruise at high altitudes, cabin pressure is low – much like the atmosphere a mile above sea level. This low pressure causes several things. The blood gets less oxygen, which makes the odor and taste receptors less sensitive. The mucus in the nasal cavities also expands in the low pressure environment. As a result, we can taste even more difficult.
In addition, most airlines hold the cabin at about 10 to 15 percent humidity. This dries nose and mouth and reduces the taste even more. Dryness, dehydration – it feels like a cold. Sweets are less sweet, salty food is less salty and it’s harder to taste certain herbs and spices. As a result, aviation usually seems rather dull, but tomato juice actually tastes better in the air.