Sunday, March 18, 2012

Super Tasters

We are studying the senses in our homeschool co-op and I just happen to be the teacher for those chapters.  Today, while I was getting the class materials ready for Tuesday, I came across this interesting tidbit of information - all tongues are not created equal. 

25% of the population are super tasters
50% are middle of roaders
25% are non-tasters

So super tasters, an interesting group of people, make up 35% of the female populations and 15% of men on average.  Super tasters have about 1000 more taste buds, medically known as fungiform papilloe, than other people.  To understand how they taste their food, think of eating neons and non tasters as eating pastels, that is a huge difference. 

Super tasters don't usually care for bitter foods so they would shy away from veggies, grapefruit juice, alcohol, spicy foods and coffee, or they add lots of sugar and cream to make it palatable.  They tend to be heavy salters and liberal with the sugar as in the coffee to cover up bitter tastes.  Taste buds, I like that word so much better than fungiform papilloe, also feel foods temperature and texture.

So how do you know if you are a super taster, a regular taster or a non-taster?  Take some blue food coloring and rub it on your tongue.  The taste buds do not pick up as much of the coloring as the rest of your tongue does and the taste buds will stand out on the tongue. 

Take a little square of  wax paper and punch it with a paper punch like in a note book.  Lay the paper on your tongue and count the number of taste buds in the circle.

Super tasters will have as many as 60 in the circle and non-tasters as few as five.  Big difference.

Up close and personal with Spark's tongue.  He has quite a few taste buds on the tip of his tongue, where he didn't get the dye, and less as you go back, but we found this true of all of us.  He is probably a upper middle of the roader as he doesn't have trouble with veggies or spicy foods, he does, however, like lots of cream and sugar in his morning coffee. 

Jobs for super tasters can be sommeliers, a wine steward who can differentiate between hundreds of wines and tell you which goes well with the chicken you ordered.  (I have never eaten any place fancy enough to have an actual sommelier).  Nestle and Cadbury have chewing gum tasters.  Other companies have people who taste cheese, olive oil, coffee, tea, ice cream, cookies, jam, bbq sauce, chocolate and lots of processed foods.  It is also an asset to being a great chef. 

All this made me think that the person who wrote the lyrics to the Mary Poppins song, "A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medicine Go Down," must have been a super taster.

1 comment:

jugglingpaynes said...

Have you found anything in your research that might consider a connection for super tasters and a super sense of smell? I have an overdeveloped sense of smell (probably to counteract my father's lack of the sense) so that the aroma of some things can actually mess up its taste for me. For example, I can't drink wine or other alcoholic beverages because I can smell the fermentation to the point where it seems rotten to me.

Just wondering. You sent me down a rabbit hole. :o) Have fun with your lessons!

Peace and Laughter,