This is indeed an interesting question so I'll attempt to answer it.
Many articles posted on the internet claim that the color red makes you hungry, and they claim that junk food giants (like KFC) use this color in their logos, those articles include: Examiner.com, Ask.com, Huffingtonpost.ca, Azscience.org, Dailyinfographic.org, wikispaces.com, rustrybee.com, omgfacts.com and sometimes they announce extraordinary unferenced claims like this one on thegloss.com:
It has to do with the way it affects your brain. Red releases
endorphins into your system that stimulate the appetite.
Most of them give reference to this article (who apparently is offline now):
Fortunately, I could get a version from Wayback Machine, you can see it here.
The article is small, unreferenced and full of logical falacies.
For example, they say that:
What do Safeway, Walgreens, and Costco have in common? The obvious
answer is that they are all large operated American supermarkets. But
do you think it’s any coincidence that these three grocery stores –
along with others like Winn-Dixie, Wawa, Giant, and Supervalu – all
use red in their logo?
Interesting, they mention a list of junk-food restaurants (or supermarkets) who list red in their logo as a proof that they Red makes you hungry.
They also forget to mention restaurants that don't use red in their logos, like:
- Taco Bell
- Dunkin Donuts
- On the border
- Shake snack
- Just salad
- White Castle
- Little Caesars
- The list goes on...
If you google any name from the list, you would see that the logo doesn't have a red colour.
With the help of Rob Marsh, I found an interesting academic article called "Impact of color on marketing". They found out that:
red light stimulates feeding, as in humans, most likely by affecting
central control centers, but the extra feeding is not converted into
This study proves that red stimulates hunger in fish, and also claim that it stimulates hunger in humans by referencing to:
Satyendra Singh, (2006) "Impact of color on marketing", Management
Decision, Vol. 44 Iss: 6, pp.783 - 789
If you dig in Singh's article:
The red color stimulates appetite because of its effect on our
metabolism, making red a popular color choice among fast-food
restaurants.... This is an important strategy for formal restaurants to increase their sales
you would notice bizarre thing about this paper is that this claim is unreferenced.
Finally, I found a referenced academic article by Appetite which actually say the opposite:
The color red reduces snack food and soft drink intake
Based on evidence that the color red elicits avoidance motivation
across contexts (Mehta & Zhu, 2009), two studies investigated the
effect of the color red on snack food and soft drink consumption. In
line with our hypothesis, participants drank less from a red labeled
cup than from a blue labeled cup (Study 1), and ate less snack food
from a red plate than from a blue or white plate (Study 2). The
results suggest that red functions as a subtle stop signal that works
outside of focused awareness and thereby reduces incidental food and
Enough said. You may look into the studies, they seem convincing.
So, answering your question:
Does the color red make you hungrier?
Not according to scientific evidence. Rob Marsh, an entrepreneur and expert with logos had an interesting opinion:
If you’ve had a positive experience with these brands, they may
trigger an “I’d love a blizzard and fries right about now” kind of
response. But it has very little to do with the color red.
Color meaning is situational.
Seeing a brand new red restaurant logo isn’t likely to make you hungry
(at least until you connect it to a positive eating experience). And
it probably won’t raise your heart rate. But it might catch your
attention—especially if the red stands out from the surrounding
environment. That’s what red does best.
So you can probably forget those color psychology posters and
recommendations. Including ours. When it comes to color, a lot of
what’s said is conjecture or just plain wrong.