Food and Science

Supertasters: What Are They?

No Comments 07 February 2013

The subject of Supertasters was recently brought up in our office, and admittedly they’re a group I didn’t know a lot about – until now. And they’re quite an intriguing bunch! By definition, a “Supertaster” is someone who experiences the sense of taste with extreme intensity – much more than you or I could imagine (unless you’re a Supertaster, of course!). The density of their tastes buds is anywhere from 10 to 100 times that of the normal person, so it makes sense that their experience with food is vastly different. The term “supertasters” was coined by Linda Bartoshuk, a psychologist who studied the genetic variation in taste perception throughout her career. But research relating to supertasters started even before that, in the 1931 when a chemist named L.A. Fox discovered that some people found the chemical (phenylthiocarbamide) to be extremely bitter, while others found it to have no taste at all. While it’s not known exactly what causes someone to be a supertaster, it’s widely thought that it has something to do with the presence of the TAS2R38 gene, which causes carriers to very strongly taste PROP (6-n-propylthiouracil) and PCT, two chemicals that have very little to no taste to normal “tasters”.

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