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Tastes Like Purple

It looked like a piano sounds shortly after being dropped down a well. It tasted yellow, and felt Paisley. It smelled like a total eclipse of the moon. Of course, nearer to the tower it got really weird.

Momentary tasting colors/ temporary synesthesia. This is where a character, due to magic, poison, drugs, blow to the head, etc. starts tasting/smelling/hearing colours or other variations. Related to and may be followed by Non Sequitur Thud. Colors like blue are popularnote  Often played for humor.

Doesn't cover characters just speaking metaphorically.note  The character tastes something which rightfully does not have a taste at all, or experiences other synesthetic weirdness. May be related to Insubstantial Ingredients, where whatever they're eating actually contains abstract concepts.

Not to be confused with Editorial Synesthesia where the characters sense things normally, it's just things have to be displayed differently for the viewer.

For the conventional taste of unconventional things see Tastes Like Feet. See also When Is Purple.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 

    Music 
  • Practically the whole song by Chris Rice, "Smell The Color Nine".
    • "Cuz' Nine's not a color... And if it were, you can't smell a color, no... That's my point exactly."

    Fan Fiction 
  • In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Comed-Tea "somehow (tastes) green and fizzy".
  • In In Flight, Shirou's ability to sense magical phenomena is interpreted by his brain in terms of smells. Normally when trying to identify the various Sekirei's powers, this is pretty straightforward, however in Miya's case, one aspect of her aura, he can only describe as smelling like "remorse".
  • In My Immortal, Ebony says something "indigoally" at one point.
  • Nightmare from Nightmarefics asks for square-flavored licorice in one chapter.
  • Shows up in My Little Denarians when Harry and Pinkie are navigating around the Outside.
  • An incomplete The Penguins of Madagascar fanfiction takes the idea a little further, having the resident smart guy invent a machine that will invoke this trope permanently. It didn't go according to plan.
  • In Glee fanfic Story of Three Boys, Original Character Casey prefers red candy. He claims that red candy never tastes like strawberry or cherry or whatever flavor it's supposed to be, it just tastes red, and he likes that.
  • In one Tron-universe fanfic, a User describes his energy ration as looking like "Mountain Dew under a blacklight and tasted...green."
  • In The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum, when the magical portal that transports the human character of the story into Canon!Equestria opens up over Ponyville, Twilight Sparkle remarks that everything tastes purple for a moment when she senses massive amounts of magical energy radiating from it.

    Film 
  • History of the World Part I: "Everything's so green!"
  • Tangled: "I don't know why, but overall it just smells like the color brown."
  • One of the taglines for Fantasia was "Hear the pictures! See the music!"
  • In Hudson Hawk, while pretending to be crazy, Anna intones: "What does the color blue taste like? Bobo knows!"

    Literature 
  • In Sourcery, the crazy magics cast by the Sourcerer are said to have that effect on things. (See quotes page)
    • In Soul Music, Ponder manages to rig up a magical apparatus to let the wizards see sound waves. Ridcully initially thinks Ponder is trying to pull this trope deliberately:
    • Also in Discworld: Infinity is blue. Trust me.
    • There also exists a cult of monks who are determined to find out what the creation of the universe sounded like. In order to become an member, one has to listen to a coin being flipped 50 miles away and correctly identify if it landed heads or tails. In order to become a master, one has to also be able to identify the color of the coin.
      • The most adept group of these monks can hear what came before the creation of the universe. They say it was "One, Two, Three, Four." The most adept of all can hear something that came even before that. They say it was "One, Two..."
    • In Wings by the same author airplane food is described as always having suspicious wobbly stuff that tastes of pink.
    • In Making Money, neurotic engraver Owlswick Jenkins describes the sensation of having his irrational fears extracted by an Igor's invention with the phrase "It smells like the sound of raspberries tastes."
    • Supposedly, werewolf Angua can smell what day of the week it is. This may just be a joking exaggeration by other characters, but she has smelled that something was green, justified by it having been made recently with a dye that had a smell. Also, Angua experiences brief synesthesia whenever she morphs from wolf to human: for a moment the things she was smelling earlier with her wolf nose are perceived in her human form as odd sights and tastes.
    • In Going Postal Moist thinks the air inside Hugos (a posh hair salon, and no, there isn't an apostrophe, because they stole the letters from the Post Office) "smells pink."
  • Neuromancer: Molly suffers this due to the side effects of some painkillers 3Jane gives her. Case, being jacked into her senses, gets to "enjoy" it too.
  • An Animorphs book offhandedly mentioned that Jake and Marco once spend an entire afternoon arguing on whether cheese could taste green.
    • Another book has Ax, the local alien and Sense Freak, comment that his food tasted red. Jake corrects him with "It's cherry flavored."
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, Helion glances at Vafnir's view of the meeting. It all appears as music to him.
  • In the book Last Dragon, someone comments that a fruit tastes like moonlight.
  • In Catching Fire, when Katniss and Peeta are at the capital, Katniss mentions in passing eating a soup that she describes in her narration as "tasting like springtime."
  • Maximum Ride: In The Final Warning, Iggy unexpectedly develops the ability to "feel" colors with 100% accuracy.
    "I still can't see squat. No vision. Nothing...But this cup is blue."
  • Because of Winn-Dixie includes the Littmus Lozenge, a candy that tastes like a mixture of strawberry, root beer and "melancholy". It's said to have been invented by a candymaker who perfected its formula right after losing his family in the American Civil War (since he needed something sweet in his life to cheer him up), with his sadness affecting him so strongly that it could be tasted by everyone who ate his candy. Miss Fanny even describes "sorrow" as the the secret ingredient of the lozenge.
  • In the Jeffrey Ford story "The Empire of Ice Cream", a synesthetic composer sees and falls in love with a synesthetic artist whom he can only see when he drinks coffee, or at least eats something with a coffee taste. She sees him under much the same condition, but she believes him to be a hallucination. She's right.
  • Geoph Essex loves this trope:
    • In Lovely Assistant, nearly every instance of Jenny travelling to and from "Wonderland" is accompanied by a description that switches things up in a Tastes Like Purple way: like "a puff of bells and the ringing of dust." Wonderland itself is sometimes described this way, too.
    • In Jackrabbit Messiah, he does the same thing describing the place inside the Princess of Chicago's head where Jack has to go to save the day ("Overhead, the color white screeched..."), and also with regard to some of Jack's hallucinations.

    Live Action TV 
  • Firefly, where everything goes bendy for Jayne.
  • House: Dr. Gregory House takes a hit of LSD to cure his chronic headaches and experiences synesthesia.
    • Later in the series, House has a patient, a USAF pilot training for NASA, whose symptoms are kicked off by a bout of synesthesia while practicing in a simulator. She begins seeing sounds and "crashes."
  • Ugly Betty: This trope is said word-for-word by Betty, who at the time was accidentally drugged by perfume. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • 30 Rock: Said word-for-word by Jack Donaghy while whacked out on pain relievers after his heart attack
  • Snipets: Said word-for-word by a child in one of the series of PSAs for children made in the 1970s, when he tastes some blueberry yogurt.
  • Survivor: To resolve a tied vote in Survivor: Marquesas, the contestants would randomly draw rocks. The two people who drew the yellow rocks would be safe, while the person who drew the purple rock would be eliminated. One of the contestants said "Oh, it feels like purple" when he picked his rock. Guess who got sent home?
  • Greg the Bunny: In the first episode, Tardy the Turtle is eating crayons and says "Crayons taste like purple".
  • Glee: In "Blame it on the Alcohol", Rachel declares that the wine cooler "tastes like pink!"
  • Many a Sweet Genius contestant learns the hard way that Chef Ron is sensitive to the taste of blue food coloring.
    • More literally, one contestant actually had a natural case of synesthesia and attempted to produce desserts that also appealed to her own unique senses. Unfortunately, this resulted in a weak presentation and she lost.
  • A first-season episode of Chuck gives us this gem after Ellie is poisoned: "Words taste like peaches!"
  • The first taste test of "Blobbly", the vat grown beef, in Better Off Ted was said to "Taste like despair." The second attempt turned out better but turned out to be to expensive to be practical.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons. In 2nd Edition, the Complete Psionics Handbook had psionic abilities that did this: Feel Light, Feel Sound, Hear Light and See Sound.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has the synesthete psionic power, which inflicts this on the user. It's primarily used to "see" with your skin, and thus protect against gaze attacks.
  • Eberron 's Dal Quor is the region of dreams, and the kalashtar are descended from refugees. The "Races of Eberron" supplement mentions that they may have memories of "tasting colors or smelling sounds."
  • Warhammer 40,000 has direct exposure to Chaos causing things like being attacked by clouds of anger, and daemons are made of emotion.

    Theatre 

    Video Games 
  • In the Interactive Fiction game So Far, the green crystal rod found under the tree is described as smelling "blue", among other things.
  • In AdventureQuest, the elemental type of damage for wyverns' poison attacks is "purple".
  • When consuming a tiny bottle of absinthe in Kingdom of Loathing, the resulting message says the absinthe "tastes like licorice, pain, and green.
  • In ''Dragon Age: Origins', one of the gift items is a bottle of Chasind Sack Mead, described as having a flavor "reminiscent of warm summer days and apple blossoms on the wind, with an unexpected aftertaste of Father going off to war, never to return."
  • In League of Legends the champion Lulu the Fae Sorceress is a young Yordle girl who went off with a fairy for a few centuries to learn their magic and became total Cloud Cuckoo Lander as a result. One of her lines is "Yup! That tasted purple!"
  • In Quest for Glory IV you are given a "Good Humor bar" at one point. If you try to lick it, it tastes "kinda funny".
  • In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, first Zexion and later Riku refer to Darkness having a scent.
  • In World of Warcraft, all in-game mentions of sickly-green Fel magic is referred to as smelling of sulfur and brimstone.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Played with in Ask a Ninja, where he says that to kill a chimerathon (a 26.2 mile long chimera), you have to cut off its ears and shove them up its nose because it can't stand the sound of how it smells.
  • In one Ask That Guy episode: "You'll be able to hear colors and smell happiness."
    • "...That, or... die."
  • In web radio drama OrgLIX, after having eating almond-flavoured jelly-beans, Demyx pauses to wonder whether "real almonds would make you hear colours too?"
  • One edit of the infamous Sonic Joke Book features a Buzzbomber recommending some medication to a friend. When asked about them it responds "I can hear colors."
  • Salad Fingers: The famous line from episode 2: Marjorie Stewart-Baxter, you taste like sunshine dust!
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "mini-golf", Strong Bad briefly speaks in reverse after returning from a trip to Sweet Puttin' Cakes, and remarks "My mouth tastes like... backwards."
    • Which was a reference to an earlier cartoon where, after waking up on the couch one day, he mentions that his mouth tastes like email. This was also referenced in an opening to a Strong Bad Email DVD, where Strong Bad says, "My mouth tastes like DVDs."
    • In fact, the website commonly refers to food and drinks that taste like the color they are shown as.
  • In A Very Potter Sequel Ron and Harry share Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. Harry winds up with broken computer while Ron gets defeat.
  • Epic Meal Time has made chili that "tastes like crazy alcohol rainbow pig".
  • Marik Plays Bloodlines, when Marik's character drinks blood for the first time. "Mmm, that's good homeless person. Wait, what am I doing? He probably tastes like shattered dreams and despair!
  • When Ink City moved to Dreamwidth, one of the signs something had happened was that Dot tasted purple.
  • Todd in the Shadows when reviewing Blah Blah Blah by Kesha says: "This actually smells bad. I can smell this through my speakers and it's awful!"
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: "Krillin, do you feel that?" "Gohan, I can TASTE that."

     Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Selma's Choice" Selma takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens, and Lisa drinks the water from the boat ride on a dare: "Ooh, I can see the music!"
    • In "Homer and Apu" Lisa has a similar quote on eating a Spice heavy meal: "I can see through time".
    • Homer's "food sense" is so pronounced he can smell the letters on a birthday cake and hear pudding.
    • In one episode, Lisa finds a crankiness cure and gives it to Grandpa. They try to isolate out of a drop of his sweat by giving every chemical in it back to him one at a time. One reaction was "I taste music."
  • Futurama: Philip J. Fry is the Trope Namer:
    • "Roswell That Ends Well": Fry's reaction to the blue-colored radiation produced by putting aluminum in the Planet Express ship's microwave is "Hey, what smells like blue?"
    • "The Why Of Fry": After getting his memory erased by Nibbler, Fry remarks "Did everything just taste purple for a second?"
  • Clone High: After Abe Lincoln gets high on raisins, he shouts "I can taste the sun!"
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: after recovering from an attack by a poisonous frog, Kowalski says "I can taste sound, but that's over now."
  • An episode of Family Guy has Peter's toy company taken over by a tobacco company. They produce a line of smoking babies that puff a cigarette and giddily announce "Tastes like happy!"
  • Jimmy Neutron: Jimmy once broke the citizens of Retroville out of their addiction to his super-delicious home-made candies by giving then treats that shock them. Sheen, however, enjoyed the sensation, and continued shocking himself until "Everything's bluuuuue!"
  • Inverted in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, where the stuff they use to make rainbows in "Sonic Rainboom" is spicy enough to induce a Fire-Breathing Diner reaction in Pinkie Pie.
  • In an episode of The Hub's Pound Puppies, Strudel bonds with a clever robotic dog, which at one point distracts her from instructing Niblet when to let go of a rope, leading the big guy to complain "Can I let go now? My mouth, it tastes like pain."

     Real Life 
  • Considering you're currently reading, you're mentally hearing what you're visually processing.
  • One of the primary reasons for the hallucinations caused by psychedelics like psylocybin mushrooms and LSD. One sense can bleed into another. Components of things that we normally consider one sense, like the ability to recognize shapes and recognize color which together are components of sight, can also bleed into one another making colorful objects bend and warp or monochromatic objects in complicated shapes appear to have color.
  • Truth in Television:
    • People with synesthesia effectively have wires crossed in their brain, causing signals sent to one of the senses, eg hearing, to be interpreted by other senses as well. Such people may literally see sounds, or taste or hear colors. Synesthesia can also be temporarily induced by psychedelic drugs.
    • Or numbers have a colour. for example: five could be blue.
    • Bouba/kiki effect. When asked to assign the names "kiki" and "bouba" to two shapes, the vast majority of people, across cultures, will assign "kiki" to the spiky shape and "bouba" to the round shape.
    • It's well-known that our sense of taste is heavily influenced by our sense of smell. But other senses can influence the way we taste things, too: try putting blue food colouring in a glass of lemonade and asking a friend to guess what flavour they're drinking.note 
      • Some cheap artificial colors have very distinct tastes. A lot of purple candy is functionally inedible due to the incredibly rancid aftertaste conferred by that coloring agent.
      • Or try a glass of Crystal Pepsi.
    • Mountain Dew Voltage, a soft drink with a distinct deep blue color. Many comments have been made by drinkers that it "tastes like the color blue would".
      • For the curious, it tastes like blue electricity, with a distinct aftertaste of watered-down cough medication.
  • Comedian Lewis Black remarked that NyQuil comes in two flavors: Red and Green. And they're the only substances on Earth that actually taste like Red and Green. He then goes on to note that these are Christmas colors, and together they make a mean eggnog.
  • People regularly assign temperatures to flavors, regardless of the temperature of the substance itself. For example, mint tastes cold while cinnamon tastes hot and chocolate tastes warm. Chefs must keep this in mind with combining ingredients.
    • Molecules like menthol (found in mint) and capsaicin (the molecule that give chili peppers their bite) found in ingredients cause temperature sensation by bonding to the temperature receptors in the tongue thus causing a food to taste "hot" or "cold".
  • Some artificial flavors have become heavily associated to the artificial colors they're usually paired with. Thus, "bubble gum" flavor is commonly called "pink" flavor, and the stuff that used to be laughingly called "cherry" in soft drinks is increasingly just being sold as "red."
    • Kool-Aid in the 70s and early 80s had several red varieties with different names that were largely indistinguishable either by appearance or taste. The one exception was Punch, which was cloudy and had a distinct (and vile) taste as well.
    • This is best seen in the weird phenomenon known as "Blue Raspberry." The only real way to describe the flavor is... "blue."
    • Circus Peanuts candy has an orange-the-color-but-not-orange-the-flavor taste. It's distinctive but hard to describe; the best attempt I've seen is "butterscotch banana."
  • Yellow Chocolate.
  • There is a certain fruit, native to South America: the Acca sellowiana, or feijoa. It is commonly described as tasting like the color purple.
  • Blue Moon ice cream, served almost exclusively in the American Midwest. Ice cream aficionados disagree on exactly what it tastes like but "blue" is not an unheard of description.
  • The best description for the taste of Big Red soda is...tastes like red.
    • It's slightly more accurate to say that Big Red tastes like red licorice. This just pushes it back a generation, though, since red licorice tastes like red.
  • Things that are grape flavoured never taste like grapes, and if things actually do, they are probably rare and not purple-coloured. They never taste like anything except perhaps purple, and by most accounts, purple is apparently flavoured of "death and the tears of small children", particularly the cough syrup.
    • Inverted in Japan: Most grape-flavoured things there actually taste like grapes... Japanese varieties of them, who taste noticeably different than e.g. most European ones.
    • This is more complicated than it sounds — there are several species of grapes, and Vitis vinifera — the species that produces most wine and table grapes — definitely doesn't taste like that. However, the American black grape, V. labrusca, sort of tastes like it, a flavor known for some reason as "foxy"; the common "grape" flavor is based on the "Concord" variety originally bred in the town of the same name in Massachusetts. (Labrusca grapes can make wines, even good wines, but they taste rather strange to people who've never known anything other than typical vinifera wines; one labrusca-vinifera hybrid, Ravat Blanc, makes a wine that tastes rather like pineapple juice.)
    • Artificial banana flavouring is in the same boat, as the flavouring was based on the (now rare) Gros Michel strain of Bananas, which tastes distinctly different (for one, it is much sweeter) than the Cavendish bananas we currently eat.

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alternative title(s): Temporary Synaesthesia; I Can Hear Magenta
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