"Mouthfeel” (also “mouth-feel” or “mouth feel") describes the texture and sensation of food or drink in the mouth. The term “mouthfeel” has been used by food technologists since at least 1939. By at least the 1980s and 1990s, “mouthfeel” was a term used in restaurant reviews.
A “mouthfeel” backlash began on food blogs in the 2000s. A strong condemnation appeared in a May 17, 2005 post titled “The Cliche Project: Words and Phrases Food Writers Should Stop Using” on the blog A Blow to the Head:
“Mouth feel.” Do I need to explain this one? It’s the worst phrase ever invented, not to mention one of the most over-used in food writing. It evokes the most disgusting imagery to me and at the same time makes me giggle.
mouth + feel
mouthfeel (plural mouthfeels)
1.The texture of food or drink as perceived by the mouth.
Mouthfeel is a product’s physical and chemical interaction in the mouth, an aspect of food rheology. It is a concept used in many areas related to the testing and evaluating of foodstuffs, such as wine-tasting and rheology. It is evaluated from initial perception on the palate, to first bite, through mastication to swallowing and aftertaste. In wine-tasting, for example, mouthfeel is usually used with a modifier (big, sweet, tannic, chewy, etc.) to the general sensation of the wine in the mouth. Some people, however, use the traditional term, “texture”. Mouthfeel is often related to a product’s water activity, hard or crisp products having lower water activities and soft products having intermediate to high water activities.
Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary
mouth·feel noun \ˈmau̇th-ˌfēl\
Definition of MOUTHFEEL
: the sensation created by food or drink in the mouth
First Known Use of MOUTHFEEL
(Oxford English Dictionary)
Etymology: < mouth n. + feel n.
The way an item of food or drink feels in the mouth, esp. a sensation of consistency, richness, etc., produced during tasting.
1973 N.Y. Times 26 Aug. iii. 12/2 The key to no-drip ice cream‥is a new ‘stabilizer’ that ‘does not affect quality, texture, taste or mouth feel’.
1995 Fine Cooking Feb. 22/1 Fat‥moistens sandwiches‥, gives a tender richness to meats,‥and it adds richness, texture, and great ‘mouth-feel’ to desserts.
2000 Wine May 29 A superb wine, with integrated oak and a vivid mouthfeel following an elegant opening.
The Journal of Home Economics
The so-called mouthfeel of food is of course dependent on its texture and consistency, qualities which can in many cases be measured objectively.
The Brewers Digest
The ugly but apt expression “mouth feel” also contributes in no small measure to the pleasure which is experienced when food is taken.
Journal of the Canadian Dietetic Association
A feature of food enjoyment is mouth-feel which depends to a degree on the astringency of the food although coolness, warmth and texture are also well known components.
Food Selection and Preparation (4th edition)
By Marion Deyoe Sweetman and Ingeborg MacKellar
New York, NY: Wiley
The palatability of frozen mixtures is judged by their texture, body, flavor, appearance, and temperature. Texture is determined by the “mouth feel” test and is a product of the interrelationship of size of crystals, temperature, and the lubricating action of fat.
OCLC WorldCat record
Objective Characterization of the Mouthfeel of Gum Solutions
Author: ALINA SURMACKA SZCZESNIAK; FARKAS ELIZABETH
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Journal of Food Science, v27 n4 (196207): 381-385
By Samuel A. Matz
Westport, CT: The AVI publishing company
Liquid foods which are essentially Newtonian fluids may be considered to have their texture or “mouthfeel” adequately described by their viscosity.
Edited by Wallace B. Van Arsdel and Michael Joseph Copley
Westport, CT: Avi Pub. Co.
The use of fats in dry soup mixes contributes desirable eating qualities to the soup. These include richness of taste, pleasant flavor, and a desirable mouth feel.
OCLC WorldCat record
Texture of canned potatoes: Use of new objective methods to separate the attributes of mouthfeel and breakdown
Author: J S Woodman; D S Warren
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, v23 n9 (197209): 1067-1077
OCLC WorldCat record
Shear press testing to define mouthfeel characteristics of baked sweet potatoes.
Author: Ann Marie Nelson
Publisher: Raleigh, N.C., 1973.
Dissertation: Thesis--North Carolina State University at Raleigh.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : English
August 1974, Texas Monthly, pg. 77, col. 2:
“But we think we can do it with peanut protein. It’s got better solubility, it’s got the mouth feel, the viscosity, the bland flavor. It’s a real opportunity.”
Posted on May 15, 2002
(MOWTH.feel) n. The way that a food product feels inside a person’s mouth. Also: mouth-feel, mouth feel.
A Blow to the Head
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The Cliche Project: Words and Phrases Food Writers Should Stop Using (an ongoing project)
2. “Mouth feel.” Do I need to explain this one? It’s the worst phrase ever invented, not to mention one of the most over-used in food writing. It evokes the most disgusting imagery to me and at the same time makes me giggle. It sounds like what a dentist gives you when he probes around. Mmm...dentist porn. Mouth feel, indeed. If you must use it, for g-d’s sake at least add the proper hyphen.
Culinary Cliches and Unfortunate Food Words
Posted 02 October 2007 - 09:53 AM
Fat Guy, on Oct 2 2007, 11:15 AM, said:
Yeah, gelatinous and drizzle seem like useful words to me. Ditto unctuous and mouthfeel. Those don’t seem hackneyed to me.
“Mouthfeel”—while admittedly isn’t the most elegant term—describes something important that isn’t covered by another term. I do think it’s overused, though.
The Epicure’s Farm-to-Table Artisanally-Crafted Post of Over-Used Food Terms
Janice | August 16, 2010 - 11:44 am
Restaurant reviewer jargon
Toothsome; mouth-feel; authentic; playful; sauces that are napped; and dishes that are tucked into— does anybody speak like this? Can we make them stop writing like this?
Should We Ban the Word “Mouthfeel” from Slog?
Posted by Paul Constant on Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 8:59 AM
In the comments of this Slog post, Goldy writes:
Not just the “tastiness” of the pudding… the mouthfeel. Geez… you just don’t get it.
I immediately jumped in and chastised Goldy for using the word “mouthfeel,” when “consistency” would work just as well. (Presumably, pudding would be smooth, no matter which orifice you stuffed it in. It’s not like the mouth brings anything special to the texture of the food.) A number of other commenters backed me up.
Eden Eats Everything
Foul Mouth: Words That Shouldn’t Touch Food
by Eden on November 30, 2011
This word is so creepy. I hear this on cooking shows all the time! I think they’re trying to describe the texture of the food or something. Anyhow, its just plain creepy.
Our Secret List of Banned Words
Posted by J. Kenji López-Alt, April 5, 2012 at 3:00 PM
. Mouthfeel. This is just icky.
Personally, I find “mouthfeel” very useful in the right situations. As for “toothsome,” I’ve read a lot of food writing lately that used the word to describe the “give” of food as you bite into it, like a perfect al dente noodle, but I can’t find any dictionary that corroborates this usage. I think it’s just sort of taken on a life of its own in the current food writing zeitgeist, and honestly, I think it works fine in the situation described above.
Adam Lindsley at 6:38PM on 04/05/12