The Sensation Of Sizzle
“You don’t sell the steak. You sell the sizzle.”
This phrase is drummed into salespeople, stockbrokers and ad executives. The sentiment of selling sizzle is agreed on universally by those in the business of changing your mind.
Australia has made a national pastime out of attending hardware store sausage sizzles. On YouTube, videos with 150,000 views offer listeners hours of sizzling sound effects, visuals of bacon and ribs hissing on a scorching gas grill.
We sure love stuff that sizzles. Clearly that hiss of cool meeting hot resonates with us deeply. Why is the human ear so easily charmed by the sounds of sizzle?
Celebrity Chef Adrian Richardson, star of the upcoming Chef’s Secret series (Check the first episode 4pm Monday 14th January on www.bright-r.com.au) relies on the sizzle to cook his perfect steak.
“It’s what you want to hear when you put the steak into the pan. The Sizzle. That’s how you know it’s cooking properly,” said Adrian.
The sizzle could be linked to our neurochemistry. A 2004 study that asked hungry participants to concentrate on their favourite food while under an MRI showed three areas of the brain lighting up; the hippocampus, insula and caudate.
Could the noise of a sizzling BBQ give our brain’s a shot of dopamine from the caudate nucleus? Or is the hippocampus eliciting chemicals in reaction to sensory memories of past meals?
Fulfilling cravings offers to brain a chemical reward, and the pleasure from the chemicals released may be part of what makes the sound of a sizzling gas grill so enjoyable.
Sub-cultures of sizzle supporters are producing videos with up to eight-hours of sizzling sounds, intended to trigger the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). ASMR describes the experience of an euphoric, tingling feeling that travels from the scalp to the upper back triggered by an audio stimulus.
People have even used the sound of food sizzling as a tool to relax, and even fall asleep. We tried it. It actually kind of works. Provided you’re comfortable falling asleep dreaming of bacon and eggs.
In any case, summer time is BBQ season. If the internet is out, you can always switch on the gas, fire up the grill and fall asleep to the soft sounds of sizzling*.
*Do not do this. It is extremely dangerous and will burn your house down.
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