A Matter of Taste?
The range & types of food we eat is truly staggering. Our pantries & refrigerators are full of foods that our pets & other animals can’t, don’t or won’t eat. We evolved from eating small prey or scavenging our protein & gathering what fruits & berries we could to become the ultimate omnivores we are today. People with enhanced taste capabilities & are sometimes described as supertasters. Taste test strips are one way to identify them.
On the Tips of our Tongues
Our tongues have specialized receptors for determining the components that make up complex tastes. The density of these tongue receptors may be directly proportional to our sensitivity to taste.
Phenylthiocarbamide (aka phenylthiourea) but commonly abbreviated as PTC, is a chemical that has long been used to test for taste sensitivity. This is particularly true in biology labs since the occurrence of supertasters can demonstrate principles of inheritance. Some food and drink companies use taste testing to find people who can discern the subtlest of differences in foods. These companies trust the supertasters’ keen senses to recommend the products you see on store shelves.
PTC evokes a very strong response in some people with its very bitter taste. Others only partially sense it and some not at all. This trait may have helped us detect what could be harmful either because they are poisonous or rotten.
Good Food vs Dog Food?
One aspect of taste sensitivity is particularly interesting. How Good is Your Dog’s Sense of Taste, written by retired professor & avowed dog lover, Stanley Coren, points out that humans typically have 9000 taste buds compared to a dog’s 1700 & a cat’s 470. Perhaps we have moved past simply recognizing bad food to the appreciating great food.
An intriguing aspect is how our sense of smell fits in. We’ve all salivated over the aroma of our favourite foods & been dismayed how tasteless it is when we have stuffed noses due to head colds. Dogs have vastly superior olfactory abilities but do they truly enjoys their food more than we do?.
Fun Science for Everyone
If you are homeschooling, doing a science fair project or may be a food or wine critic in waiting, test your sensitivities with our supertaster test strip combination pack. Comparing prices? Read this (condensed) review a customer sent to us recently:
“I’ve always been curious about using these taste test strips and I just wanted some for myself. “Packs on Amazon cost more than from Indigo which arrived just as fast as Amazon prime”! I was very happy with the purchase and grateful to be able to not have to worry about counterfeit strips on Amazon and support a good business. These were great!”
More Info About Taste & Smell
- Super-Tasters and Non-Tasters: Is it Better to Be Average? Smell & taste together produce what we perceive as flavor.
- Taste Molecules – The Molecular Basis of Taste. From the Science of Cooking.
- Indigo® Instruments 3D virtual organic molecule maker. Build models of molecules in the article above.