The study, authored by Ed O'Brien and Phoebe C. Ellsworth of the University of Michigan, piggybacked off previous studies about salient endings. One forerunner had demonstrated that students felt greater affection for their school when reminded about graduation than students not reminded of graduation. The authors explain, in relation to food:
Imagine that your favorite restaurant is closing, and you final meal tastes especially delicious. Is it actually more tasty than normal, or is it just more enjoyable because you know it is the last one?
To test the hypothesis, 52 students were recruited for a supposed taste test of new Hershey's Kisses. They were given five chocolates: milk, dark, creme, caramel and almond. Before they were given the fifth chocolate, some participants were told by the experimenter "Here is your next chocolate." The other participants were told "Here is your last chocolate."
Participants in the "last" condition rated the fifth chocolate more enjoyable, and liked that chocolate more than any other chocolate. Based on these results, it seems that if you think something is the last, you'll tend to like it the best. But now this study begs the question -- if you were to eat dessert first, would it taste less good?