Synesthesia and Ice Cream

By Allison Jones

When I was 11 years old, I went to a summer camp that was weirdly obsessed with ice breakers. Every time we started a new activity we had to answer some boring question about ourselves. So, naturally, all the campers started a secret contest to have the most creative answer. It was probably the first time a group of kids asked their favorite color all said things like “periwinkle” or “chartreuse.” When it came to me, I was confident in my winning answer as I said Fruit Tart.

Now, in my experience, when you tell a camp counselor that your favorite color is “fruit tart,” their reaction will be threefold:

Step 1: Sheer and utter confusion.

Step 2: Assumption that you weren’t listening and thinking that the question was “favorite food.”

Upon clarifying that you actually mean the color you taste when eating the sticky part of tart, they reach the following conclusion:

Step 3: That his or her camper is insane.

This was when I discovered that not everyone tastes colors. I have something called synesthesia, which means that all my senses are crossed. When I look at shapes, I hear a sound and when I eat things, I taste a certain color. (For the record, the gooey part of a fruit tart tastes like the middle strip of a sunset.) So now, I’m going to share the colors I taste when eating some of the most colorful food in Oxford. Ice cream from UDF.

The first ice creIMG_2580.JPGam I tried is called “Blue Moo Cookie Dough.”I have to say I was pretty pumped to try this one because bright blue is one of my all time favorite flavors. Things that taste blue taste very blue and it is a flavor that overwhelms and refuses to be ignored. Unfortunately, while delicious, this ice cream does not actually taste blue. It’s more of a soft yellow, almost a cream. If I could eat this without having to see its color, I would definitely get it again.

img_2581-2The next ice cream I tried is “Paintball Blast.” Bright yellow with splashes of green. I didn’t know what to expect. Yellow is generally a quiet flavor. Often when eating something that tastes yellow I don’t notice the color at all unless someone asks. So I did not have an idea in mind of what bright yellow should taste like. The ice cream itself tastes pink. When I pointed this out to Stephanie Raudenbush, my roommate, she got excited and said, “Well that one makes sense at least. This tastes like bubblegum.” However rather than a pale pink one would expect to see out of bubblegum, “Paintball Blast” tastes more like a hot pink. Stephanie was not pleased with this explanation.

The final ice cream I tried was “Rainbow Sherbet.”This one was my favorite because it was delicious and it matched. I couldn’t get a picture that quite captured its pale orange with swirling pink color, but the dessert tasted orange and refreshing. I think it was probably because it was the most naturally flavored of the desserts. The Sherbet looked and tasted fruity with just a hint of tang, and orange for the most part, tasted like summer. 

Edited By Olivia Lewis

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