Young and Hungry

Speaking of Supertasters, Are You One?

tongue

Photo from PBS.org

Yesterday Tim Carman posted a blog in which he concluded that supertasters are at-risk of heart attacks because of their preference for salty foods. Anyone who clicked on the link saw that the NPR article Carman referred to not only outlined what a supertaster is, but suggested a few ways you could find out if you are one.

According to a beer guide by Beer Fox Carolyn Smagalski that we read recently and a handful of sources on the interwebs, supertasters have a denser distribution of taste buds than average tasters and more than twice as many as "non-tasters." You can check where you fall in the spectrum by putting some dark food coloring on the tip of your tongue, punching a standard three-ring binder size hole in a piece of paper, covering your tongue with the paper, and then counting the number of papillae (pink dots) that you see inside the hole. Super tasters have 35 or more, average tasters fall between 15 and 35, and non-tasters have 15 or fewer.

The Lagerheads are not sure how scientific or accurate this process is, but our household has been intrigued by the idea all the same. Still, we haven't put any effort into the experiment beyond sticking our tongues out in front of the bathroom mirror for a less formal side-by-side comparison. Judging by our commitment level so far, we are not likely to send off for the official chemical test hopeful supertasters can mail order to prove their superiority either, but that doesn't make us less curious.

For years we have wondered why Bruce is more likely to describe a beer in poetic terms than culinary ones, why Mr. Lagerhead can eat hop peppers in circles around Ms. Lagerhead, or why Tammy can enter the house hours after Bruce has consumed lunch and instantly identify Chipotle or whatever other guilty pleasure it was.

Tammy's dad claims she has a rare nose condition where her cells are much larger than those of the average person, but we think it's more likely that the well-meaning, salt-loving man passed down a little something special, or at least above average, in his genes.

We are willing to take the time to try the supertaster test if you are. Game? If so, post your results in the comments (or tell us why this whole thing is bogus).

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  • Jody Miller

    I am a Supertaster! No bogusness here. I wish it were only as easy as being a picky eater but it's a lot more complex than that. My friends get bummed when I taste their beer because I taste things they can't. Good AND bad. Sometimes neutral but "now they know" and can affect the taste thereafter.

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