Taste Expert Answers Questions From Twitter | Tech Support | WIRED

3 Jun 202216:56
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TLDRIn this informative and engaging video, taste expert Beth Kimmerle addresses various intriguing questions about flavors, taste perception, and the science behind our sensory experiences with food. She explains the distinctions between tart and sour, the science behind the creation of unique flavors like blue raspberry, and the impact of COVID-19 on taste and smell. Kimmerle also delves into the complexities of flavors in popular items like McDonald's chicken nuggets and Coca-Cola, and offers insights into the world of flavor creation, including the role of color in taste perception and the possibility of becoming a flavor guru.

  • πŸ‹ The difference between tart and sour taste: Tart and sour are essentially the same, but in professional tasting, terms like lactic sour, basic sour, and acetic sour are used to describe specific types of sourness found in foods like vinegar, citrus fruits, and fermented products.
  • πŸ‡ Blue raspberry flavor: Although blue raspberry isn't a real fruit, its unique flavor likely originates from a combination of flavors created by food scientists or flavor houses, possibly mixing raspberry and grape flavors.
  • 😷 Restoring taste and smell after COVID-19: Practicing with essential oils can help retrain the brain to recognize different smells and tastes, aiding in the recovery of senses affected by the virus.
  • 🍬 Sour candy's effect on the tongue: The citric acid in sour candies can cause irritation and damage to the tongue and mouth's tissues due to its corrosive nature.
  • 🦈 Sharkleberry Fin: This is not an actual flavor but a trademarked name used by Kool-Aid, representing a unique and branded concept rather than a specific taste.
  • πŸ— Addictiveness of McDonald's chicken nuggets: The carefully formulated combination of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami tastes in chicken nuggets makes them highly palatable and addictive.
  • πŸƒ Gum's fleeting flavor: Gum's flavor comes from a combination of sweeteners and flavorings, which dissolve in the mouth and eventually make their way to the stomach, leading to a short-lived taste experience.
  • πŸ§„ Onion flavor's longevity: The sulfur in onions and garlic enters the bloodstream and can linger in the body, causing the flavor to last much longer than gum or other foods that simply dissolve in the mouth.
  • πŸ‘… Taste perception: The tongue has approximately 10,000 taste buds with receptors that signal the brain about incoming tastes, allowing us to taste the five basic tastes throughout the entire tongue.
  • 🌢️ Flamin' Hot Cheetos flavor creation: The flavor is not created by a single person but by a team of marketing, science, and product development professionals who may have spent years perfecting it.
  • πŸ‡ Supertaster definition: A supertaster has more than the average number of taste buds, leading to a heightened sensitivity and perception of flavors, which can be overwhelming for such individuals.
Q & A
  • What is the difference between tart and sour tastes?

    -Tart and sour tastes are essentially the same, but in professional tasting, 'sour' is used to describe specific types of sourness like lactic sour (from buttermilk or yogurt), acetic sour (from vinegar), and basic sour (from citric acid or citrus).

  • Why is blue raspberry considered the best fruit flavor despite not being real?

    -Blue raspberry may have originated from a flavor house, where food scientists and product developers source and create unique flavors. It might be a combination of raspberry and grape flavors, and its popularity could be due to its distinctiveness and the novelty it offers.

  • What can be done to restore taste and smell after COVID-19?

    -To restore taste and smell after COVID-19, one can practice using essential oils in various flavors and gently sniff them to trigger memory and brain association with those scents. Over time, this practice can help speed up the recovery of taste and smell senses.

  • Why does sour candy cause a raw feeling on the tongue?

    -Sour candies contain citric acid, which can erode the papillae on the tongue and the roof of the mouth, leading to a raw feeling. The intensity of the sourness can vary depending on the type of candy consumed.

  • What is the significance of the name 'Sharkleberry Fin'?

    -Sharkleberry Fin is not a flavor but a branded concept created by a food company. The name is likely a marketing strategy to own a unique flavor identity, similar to how other companies protect their secret recipes.

  • Why are McDonald's chicken nuggets so addicting?

    -McDonald's chicken nuggets are formulated in a lab to have the perfect balance of the five basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. This combination can make them highly addictive due to their appealing taste profile.

  • How does the tongue distinguish different tastes?

    -The tongue has about 10,000 taste buds with receptors that detect different tastes. These receptors send signals to the brain, allowing us to identify various flavors. The taste receptors are evenly distributed across the tongue, not confined to specific sections.

  • Who created the flavor of Flamin' Hot Cheetos?

    -The flavor of Flamin' Hot Cheetos was not created by a single person but by a team of marketing, science, and product development professionals. The exact creators are not disclosed due to non-disclosure agreements and the secretive nature of food industry flavors.

  • What is a 'supertaster' and how can one determine if they are one?

    -A supertaster is someone with more than the average number of taste buds, typically over 10,000. This heightened number of taste buds makes them more sensitive to flavors. One can determine if they are a supertaster by using food dye and a Q-tip to count the number of papillae on their tongue; over 35 indicates a supertaster.

  • Why do Fruity Pebbles of different colors taste the same despite appearing as different flavors?

    -Fruity Pebbles are all the same flavor, but their different colors trick the mind into perceiving them as different flavors. This is due to the strong influence of visual cues on our taste perception, a phenomenon that even affects professional tasters.

  • How do Pop Rocks create their unique sensory experience?

    -Pop Rocks contain gas that is released when they come into contact with moisture, causing a popping sensation. The combination of this textural experience with the flavor creates a multisensory experience that engages more than just the taste buds.

  • Why does Sprite from McDonald's taste different from bottled Sprite?

    -Sprite from McDonald's is likely served from a machine, which may impart different flavors from the packaging or the way it's dispensed, compared to bottled Sprite, which comes directly from a manufacturing plant. Packaging materials can sometimes affect the taste of beverages due to the flavors they can impart.

  • How are different flavors of cheese created?

    -Different flavors of cheese are created by using different types of milk and enzymes. The aging process, temperature, and specific conditions during storage also play a significant role in developing the complex flavors found in cheese.

  • Why do candies like Starbursts have colors that don't match their flavors?

    -Candies are colored to provide visual cues that suggest certain flavors. The colors are not always an exact match to the fruit because of limitations in food coloring and the need to avoid certain dyes associated with health concerns. The brain associates the color with the expected flavor, enhancing the tasting experience.

  • What is the flavor profile of Coca-Cola?

    -Coca-Cola has a complex flavor profile that includes the base flavor from kola nut, brown spices, hints of sarsaparilla (root beer base), and fruity notes. The balance of these flavors, along with the sweetness level, contributes to the unique taste of Coca-Cola.

  • How would a professional taster describe the taste of wasabi?

    -A professional taster would describe wasabi as having an intense, spicy flavor similar to horseradish but with a higher intensity. It also has the taste of a root vegetable since it belongs to the mustard family.

  • What steps can be taken to become a Ben & Jerry's flavor guru?

    -To become a flavor guru, one can either pursue a science background related to food and flavor or practice meditative eating to develop a keen sense of taste. Participating in consumer taste tests with ice cream companies like Ben & Jerry's can also provide valuable experience and potential job opportunities.

πŸ‹ Understanding Taste: From Sour to Science

Beth Kimmerle, an author and taste expert, embarks on a flavorful journey to answer Twitter questions about taste. She clarifies the confusion between tart and sour tastes, elaborating on specific types like acetic, lactic, and basic sour. Beth then dives into the intriguing world of artificial flavors, using blue raspberry as a case to explore how flavor houses innovate. Addressing the long-lasting impact of COVID on taste and smell, she suggests using essential oils for recovery. The discussion takes a tangy turn with the consequences of indulging in too much sour candy, highlighting the chemical reactions on the tongue. Beth also demystifies the enigmatic Sharkleberry Fin flavor, hinting at how food companies create unique brand identities through flavors. The conversation rounds off with the addictive nature of fast food, particularly McDonald's chicken nuggets, attributed to their precise balance of the five basic tastes.

🍬 Flavor Mysteries: Gum Durability to Taste Perception

The quest for understanding taste continues with the perplexing question of why gum loses its flavor quickly, while onion lingers for hours. Beth explains the science behind flavor longevity in gum and the persistent aftertaste of onions, attributing it to sulfur compounds entering the bloodstream. She also touches upon the role of taste buds in flavor perception, debunking myths about the tongue's taste zone layout. The fascinating creation of Flamin' Hot Cheetos is highlighted, emphasizing the collaborative effort behind flavor development. Additionally, the concept of a 'supertaster' is explored, including a hands-on demonstration to identify one. The segment ends with a surprising revelation about Fruity Pebbles; despite different colors suggesting varied flavors, they all share the same taste, a phenomenon influenced by visual perception.

πŸ‡ Colorful Deceptions and Sensory Experiences

This section unravels how visual cues deceive our taste perceptions, using Fruity Pebbles and colored wine as examples. Beth discusses the cost-saving strategy behind uniform flavors in products like Fruity Pebbles, underlining the powerful role of color in shaping our taste experiences. The segment also delves into the fascinating mechanism of Pop Rocks, blending flavor with texture for a unique sensory experience. A comparison between McDonald's Sprite and bottled Sprite illustrates how packaging influences taste perception. Beth then explores the complex world of cheese flavors, attributed to variations in milk, enzymes, and aging processes. The discussion extends to the influence of color on flavor perception, exemplified by pink Starbursts, and concludes with an insightful exploration into the multifaceted flavor profile of Coca-Cola.

🌢️ Wasabi's Pungent Mystery to Flavor Gurus

The final segment addresses the enigmatic taste of wasabi, distinguishing its flavor profile within the mustard family and its intense, nose-burning sensation. Beth then answers a curious inquiry about becoming a Ben & Jerry's flavor guru, suggesting pathways through science or meditative eating and taste testing. The segment wraps up with Beth expressing hope that the audience learned something new and had fun exploring the intricate world of tastes and flavors, punctuated by upbeat drum music.

πŸ’‘Taste Support
Taste Support refers to the concept of providing information and guidance about taste and flavor. In the video, this term represents the thematic structure where the host, Beth Kimmerle, addresses questions related to taste from the audience. It symbolizes a platform or session dedicated to unraveling the complexities of how humans perceive and describe different tastes and flavors, similar to customer support but specifically tailored for culinary questions.
In the video, 'sour' is a taste quality that is distinguished from other taste profiles like sweet, bitter, and umami. It is typically associated with acidic foods. The explanation extends to categorize different types of sourness (lactic, acetic, and basic), relating to the source of the sour taste such as vinegar (acetic sour), buttermilk or yogurt (lactic sour), and citric acid found in citrus fruits (basic sour). This categorization is used in the professional tasting industry to describe and differentiate the complexities within sour tastes.
πŸ’‘Flavor House
A 'flavor house' is mentioned as a place where food scientists and product developers go to source or develop specific flavors for food products. In the video, this term is used to describe how unconventional flavors, like blue raspberry, may be created or chosen from a library of flavors. It represents the creative and scientific backdrop against which food companies design the taste profiles of their products.
πŸ’‘Olfactory Rehabilitation
This concept, while not named directly, relates to the process described for recovering the sense of taste and smell after COVID-19, using essential oils and scent training. 'Olfactory Rehabilitation' refers to methods aimed at regaining olfactory function, typically involving repeated exposure to different scents to help the brain relearn how to recognize them. This is crucial for people experiencing prolonged anosmia (loss of smell) following illnesses.
πŸ’‘Citric Acid
Citric acid is mentioned in the context of sour candy, highlighting its role in giving sour candy its distinct tartness. In the video, citric acid's effect on the tongue's papillae, leading to discomfort or rawness, illustrates the physical impact that ingredients can have on our sensory organs, affecting our experience of food.
A 'Supertaster' is described as someone with a significantly higher number of taste buds than average, leading to heightened taste sensitivities. This term is crucial in understanding individual differences in taste perception. In the video, the concept is used to explain why some people might find certain foods unbearably bitter or intense, due to their increased taste receptor count.
πŸ’‘Sensory Evaluation
Sensory Evaluation is a scientific method used to measure, analyze, and interpret reactions to characteristics of food as they are perceived by the senses. This is referenced in the video when discussing taste scales and the assessment of food flavors, illustrating how professionals quantify and understand different aspects of taste.
πŸ’‘Flavor Migration
Flavor Migration is touched upon when discussing why Fruity Pebbles, despite being different colors, taste the same. It refers to the phenomenon where flavors within a food product blend over time, leading to a homogenized taste. This concept explains why prolonged storage or incorrect packaging can lead to changes in a product's flavor profile.
πŸ’‘Taste Buds
Taste buds are small sensory organs on the tongue, capable of detecting the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. The video explains their role in taste perception and dispels the myth that different parts of the tongue are responsible for different tastes. Instead, it clarifies that taste buds are distributed throughout the tongue and are integral to how we perceive flavor.
πŸ’‘Gum Base
In the video, 'Gum Base' is mentioned in the context of why the flavor of gum lasts only a short time compared to persistent flavors like onion. Gum base is the non-digestible part of gum that gives it chewiness. The discussion around gum base and flavor longevity sheds light on how different ingredients and food structures can impact the duration and intensity of flavors we experience.

Beth Kimmerle, an author and taste expert, answers questions about taste.

The difference between tart and sour taste explained with professional terms like lactic sour, basic sour, and acetic sour.

Blue raspberry flavor's origin possibly from a flavor house and its unique combination of tastes.

Practicing with essential oils can help restore taste and smell after COVID-19.

Sour candy's citric acid can damage the tongue and mouth's surface.

Sharkleberry Fin is not a flavor but a branded concept from Kool-Aid.

McDonald's chicken nuggets are formulated in a lab to create an addictive taste.

Gum's flavor doesn't last long because it's designed to dissolve in the stomach, unlike onion's sulfur that enters the bloodstream.

Taste is detected by taste buds with receptors signaling the brain, and these receptors are evenly spread across the tongue.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos flavor was created by a team, not an individual, and the process can take years.

Supertasters have more than 10,000 taste buds and perceive flavors more intensely.

Fruity Pebbles have the same flavor but different colors trick the mind into perceiving different tastes.

Pop Rocks create a unique sensory experience with their texture and sound in addition to flavor.

Sprite's taste can differ based on packaging, with flavors potentially coming from inks or plastics.

Different cheeses have unique flavors based on the type of milk, enzymes used, and aging process.

Colors in food are used to cue the brain about taste, even if they don't match the actual color of the flavor.

Coca-Cola has a complex flavor profile with notes of kola nut, brown spice, sarsaparilla, and fruit.

Wasabi's flavor is intense like horseradish but also has the taste of a root vegetable.

Becoming a Ben & Jerry's flavor guru involves a background in science or practice in taste testing.

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