Have you always been a picky eater? Does the ice-cream taste too sweet and green vegetables too bitter? Chances are that you might be a “Supertaster”.
Superpower: Supertaster (WTF is this?)
To put it in simple terms a Supertaster is someone who has more taste buds than normal and is very sensitive to particular tastes. Taste buds (located on small bumps on the tongue called fungiform papillae) are each made up of about 50 to 150 taste receptor cells. Each receptor is best at sensing a single flavor: sweet, salty, bitter, sour or umami and the sum total of these sensations is the “taste” of the food. The number of taste buds varies from person to person.
More taste buds equal to more “taste” (no, it’s not as amazing as it sounds). Food has way stronger flavors, which often leads to supertasters having very strong likes and dislikes for different foods. Imagine not being able to have a Candy floss because it’s too sweet (talk about nightmares).
Specific Food Sensitivity
Although individual food preference for supertasters cannot be specified, there are the most common food items documented that Supertasters have been found sensitive to and hence avoided (you know what to say the next time you want to avoid green veggies). These include certain alcoholic beverages (gins, tequilas, and hoppy beers), Brassica oleracea cultivars (becomes very sulfurous, especially if overcooked) like Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Kale.
Coffee, Grapefruit juice, Green tea(never liked it anyway), Soy products, Carbonated water, Mushrooms, Anise, Licorice and Lower-sodium foods are also some of the common examples.
A History of Super-Tasting
In 1931, Arthur L. Fox, a DuPont chemist, discovered that some individuals found phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) to be bitter while others found it tasteless. At the 1931 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fox collaborated with Albert F. Blakeslee (a geneticist) to have attendees taste PTC: 65% found it bitter, 28% found it tasteless and 6% described other taste qualities. Subsequent work revealed that the ability to taste PTC was genetic in nature (technically like all superhero powers, this too is a genetic abnormality).
Today, propylthiouracil (PROP) has replaced PTC in taste research due to a faint sulphurous odour and safety concerns with PTC. Also, Tasters can now be categorized into Super-tasters (as explained above), Medium tasters (neither too strong nor too weak) and non-tasters ( no taste at all…nada…zilch…ugh another nightmare in the making)
To find out what kind of taster you are you can conduct a simple test at home. You can either use a PTC strip (put it in your mouth and if it tastes weird or bitter, Congratulations! not really) or conduct the simple test specified in this cool article.
Okay, doesn’t work. Lame.