Experimental utensils make food shockingly delicious.

One of the big drags of getting older is not being able to eat with abandon any more. Nowadays just looking at the amount of salt my kids pour onto their food is enough to give me heart palpitations, but it sure would be nice to indulge in those strong flavors without risking a lifestyle disease.

Food producer Kirin and Meiji University seem to agree and through extensive research have developed a pair of chopsticks that can stimulate the taste of salt in foods with low salt content. This still unnamed device does this simply by sending a weak electric current right into your food.

The trick was finding just the right electrical waveform that affects the ions such as sodium chloride that are responsible for salty tastes so that the saltiness they produce is enhanced. As an added bonus, this current also affects the ions in monosodium glutamate, which is responsible for the umami flavor of foods like miso soup.

▼ Behold! The waveform of saltiness

They then conducted tests by feeding subjects a gel with a particular salt content and asking them to rate how salty it tasted in order to set a benchmark. They then fed them a gel with salt reduced by 30 percent. Interestingly, the test subjects’ scores also reported a surprisingly accurate drop of about 30 percent in perceived saltiness.

In the final test, subjects were served the same reduced-salt gel but ate it with the electrified chopsticks. As a result the perceived saltiness scores rose by 50 percent, making the reduced-salt gel taste saltier than the original salty gel.

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