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tetrachromat link?[edit]

Why is tetrachromatacy a "see also" link from this entry. It is another interesting example of supranormal sensory discrimination but it not a human phenomena and seems like to tangential an assocition to be a branch off of supertaster.

Actually, human tetrachromats do exist, but they are very rare (google for "madame tetrachromat"). But given that supertasting is a normal, common occurrence, I agree that the inclusion of tetrachromat is curious.Jeh25 02:36, 6 November 2006 (UTC)

Number of taste buds[edit]

I wrote the original version of this article, and very much wished to include specifics regarding the taste-bud density of supertasters vs. nontasters, but I got lots of different numbers from different sources that didn't seem to add up. Some sources said supertasters could have up to 1100 buds per cm, others said as low as 400. Nontasters ranged from 5 to 40. There were other, more reasonable-sounding figures, but I didn't want to introduce potentially exaggerated or non-factual information to the article. If anyone knows these figures from a trusted and reliable source, please include them! Thank you. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 21:44, Jan 20, 2005 (UTC)

This is speculation, but it might be that some sources are talking about actual taste buds (of which the avarage human has about 10,000 according to the article), and others are talking about papillae, the protrusions on which the taste buds sit (these are much fewer). I don't have an accurate source for actual numbers, but keeping this in mind might aid in finding them. EldKatt (Talk) 15:24, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, you are correct. Buds are housed in the papillae. Papillae can be easily counted non-destructively while buds may require excision to count. I don't have the time to add the info now, but here are the sources from which you can get the correct numbers.
Miller, I. J., Jr. and Reedy, F. E., Jr. (1990) Variations in human taste bud density and taste intensity perception. Physiol Behav, 47, 1213-1219.
Miller, I. J. and Reedy, F. E. (1990) Quantification of fungiform papillae and taste pores in living human subjects. Chem Senses, 15, 281-294.
Miller, I. J. and Bartoshuk, L. M. (1991) Taste Perception, Taste Bud Distribution, and Spatial Relationship. In Getchell, T. V. (ed.) Smell and taste in health and disease, 205-233.
Zuniga, J. R., Davis, S. H., Englehardt, R. A., Miller, I. J., Schiffman, S. S. and Phillips, C. (1993) Taste Performance on the Anterior Human Tongue Varies with Fungiform Taste Bud Density. Chemical Senses, 18, 449-460.
Hope this helps Jeh25 21:50, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

Please make sure that "super taster" re-directs to here[edit]

Upon trying to re-find this page, I searched for "super taster", as in two words. Normally, WikiPedia is good at re-directing misspellings and uncommon spellings, but this one isn't implemented yet. Can someone who knows how to do this please do it?--Peter Knutsen 03:56, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for the URL, I'll check it out.--Peter Knutsen 05:08, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Ref for PROP[edit]

We need a reference for the assertion that propyluracil is used to distinguish between normal tasters and supertasters in research settings. JFW | T@lk 21:53, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Have a look at Google[1]. EldKatt (Talk) 22:09, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

BBC Supertasters[edit]

link to BBC Supertasters is no good65.14.60.2 01:39, 18 October 2006 (UTC)


In the Identifying a Supertaster section, the text says "Supertasters were initially identified on the basis of the perceived intensity of PROP compared to a reference salt solution. However, because supertasters live in a larger taste world than medium or nontasters, this can cause scaling artifacts. Subsequently, salt has been replaced with a non-oral auditory standard." (emphasis mine)

How does "a non-oral auditory standard" make any sense? How does hearing have anything to do with tasting ability? Shawn D. 17:30, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree, this needs more explanation to make any kind of sense to a lay reader, if in fact it isn't completely false. blodulv 21:47, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
I have have expanded text in the article to explain the logic behind using sound as a standard. Is it clear now?Jeh25 21:40, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
Ah, I see you're confusing the use of the decibel as a sound level rating to mean that anything rated in dB is therefore using a sound standard. That understanding is incorrect. The decibel is a logarithmic scale that expresses the relative magnitude of something against a reference level. It could be sound, power, or (apparently) tasting ability. However, there is still no explanation or reference to what is used to determine the relative levels. One still can't taste sound, so the answer to your question is: no, it is not clear now. Shawn D. 17:08, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

The immediately preceeding discussion betrays a lack of clarity on the concept. The Bel is a unit that applies specifically to a voltage or power level and is defined on a logarithmic scale using a specific formula: dB=10log(P1/P0) where P1 and P0 are measured power and reference power level respectively. dBm is referenced to P0=1 milliWatt. Thus, the Bel, and its smaller unit the deciBel, is a logarithmic unit, describing a *ratio* but it is inappropriate to suggest that all logarithmic units are deciBels. Units of concentration, as in chemical solutions can be expressed logarithmically, but that does not make them deciBel units. they can be Parts per thousand, million, billion, trillion, etc and can reflect an absolute concentration that is *NOT* a ratio. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dpasek (talkcontribs) 15:28, 3 March 2018 (UTC)

I have revised the article in an attempt to address your comment. For more information on matching sensations across modalities, you can read
Stevens JC, Marks LE. Cross-modality matching of brightness and loudness. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1965 Aug;54(2):407-11.
Marks et al. Magnitude-matching: the measurement of taste and smell. Chemical Senses. 1988. 13: 63-87.
Hope this helpsJeh25 17:18, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Actually, one could potentially taste sound. Please see for more information.-- 16:13, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

More intense taste world[edit]

the first sentence was nonsense. it said a supertaster was someone who lived "in a more intense taste world." i had to change it immediately, and i felt it was so urgent i didn't consult anyone first. Youdontsmellbad 07:51, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps you should have read up on the topic first, because your change is imprecise and misleading. Acute would imply finer resolution and nothing at all about the intensity of the sensation. While it is true that supertasters can *also* detect smaller changes (see Prescott et al 2004 doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.04.009), the central concept of supertasting revolves around the idea that there are intensity differences across people regarding taste. According to the scientist who coined the term, supertasters live in a taste world that is about 3x more intense than that of nontasters. Jeh25 15:35, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Say what you will about my accuracy, I take issue with your use of the dubious term "taste world" which is mentioned once in that article (in quotes) and gets one solid google result. please, strive for the best use of research possible, but i don't buy the notion of a "taste world" in an encyclopedia. least of all in the first sentence of an article. someone back me up, please. "taste world?" come on.Youdontsmellbad 20:12, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm writing a correction that should keep both of us happy. Youdontsmellbad 23:10, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

I have also rephrased the "taste world" phrasing before. It's esoteric phrasing with no place in an encyclopedia. Supertasters don't "live in" any kind of "taste world", they live on the planet earth and have an abnormally strong SENSE of tatse. I will rephrase this goofy wording any time it is added back into the article. Ghost of starman 20:42, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

To avoid a revert war, I have not changed the article text. That said, while you may not like it, the phrase is repeatedly used within the scientific literature. Here are some examples:
Blakeslee & Fox. 1932. Our different taste worlds. Journal of Heredity. 23:97-1007.
Bartoshuk. 1979. Bitter taste of saccharin related to the genetic ability to taste the bitter substance 6-n-propylthiouracil. Science, 205, 934-935.
Bartoshuk, Duffy & Miller. 1994. PTC/PROP tasting: anatomy, psychophysics, and sex effects. Physiol Behav, 56, 1165-1171.
Bartoshuk, Duffy, Reed and Williams. 1996. Supertasting, earaches and head injury: genetics and pathology alter our taste worlds. Neurosci Biobehav Rev, 20, 79-87.
Tepper. 1998. 6-n-Propylthiouracil: a genetic marker for taste, with implications for food preference and dietary habits. Am J Hum Genet, 63, 1271-1276.
Bartoshuk et al. 2000. Comparing sensory experiences across individuals: recent psychophysical advances illuminate genetic variation in taste perception. Chem Senses, 25, 447-460.
Bartoshuk et al. 2004. From psychophysics to the clinic: missteps and advances. Food Qual Pref, 15, 617-632.
It seems to me that google is not the sum total of human knowledge, and shouldn't be used as the final arbiter of whether or not something belongs in an encyclopedia. Jeh25 19:48, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Do they taste more intensely, or do they simply whine more about what they taste? Have tests been run against non-supertasters using extremely dilute solutions? This seems like a pretty basic research avenue, yet I see nothing about it in the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:59, 5 July 2008 (UTC)
It's in the article: "...some individuals found phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) to be bitter while others found it tasteless...", "...The bitter taste receptor gene TAS2R38 has been associated with the ability to taste PROP[5] and PTC...", etc. Supertasters taste at least two compounds that others do not. - Mdsummermsw (talk) 15:19, 7 July 2008 (UTC)


"Still, the T2R38 genotype has been linked to sweet preference,[7] alcohol intake,[5] colon cancer (via inadequate vegetable consumption)[8] and cigarette smoking.[citation needed]" - increased or decreased correlation? It's perceived as increased, but IIRC the last three are of decreased correlation. (talk) 11:43, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Origin of term 'Supertaster'[edit]

The first thing I noticed was the Supertasters ( page has a problem: My junior high science teacher used the term 'supertaster' in 1971. He had a 'kit' with PCP and other such things on blotter paper and said 1 in 10 could taste the PCP (two in the 22 students did, I was one). The term therefore can't originate from anything done in the 1990's! Anyone else hear of the term well before the 1990's? Bcw142 (talk) 02:00, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Um... Maybe a better question would be, "Did anyone who wasn't on dissociative drugs at the time hear of the term well before the 1990s?"
Kidding aside, I guess it's possible the term was used "informally" before the 1990s? The article does note research on the idea back to 1931, but makes the 1990s findings sound unprecidented. - Mdsummermsw (talk) 13:05, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
In 1971, it is quite possible that your jr high science teacher used a kit with PTC (not PCP) impregnated papers to test whether you were a taster or a nontaster, but the label supertaster first appears in print in a 1991 article in Food Technology and the seminal peer reviewed paper is from 1994. Jeh25 (talk) —Preceding undated comment was added at 00:24, 7 October 2008 (UTC).
Why does the Revision as of 19:17, 12 September 2006 ( cite a 1986 book as the first reference, before Ninti changed the reference to one with a later date? This user also added a note that PROP has replaced PTC due to safety concerns with PTC, but I can't find a source for that. I've found references to "super-taster" in cooking and brewing journals going back to 1945. Anyway, I'm putting citation needed tag in the danger of PROP vs PTC. - bitserve (talk) 17:07, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the term has been used possibly since the early 1930's when it was first noticed. It didn't get in to normal peer reviewed literature till the 1990's. I can except that, a cookbook isn't the same as scientific literature. The kit my science teacher got had PTC or a PCP related compound (very bitter to me), which has gone out of use because it's drug related and PROP isn't a controlled drug like PCP. Bcw142 (talk) 16:17, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Chili and supertaster[edit]

I do not have reference, but I find it little ambiguous that chili pepper is mentioned as a altered preference. If preference is altered, supertaster is more likely to become chili addict, because capsaisin affects heat receptors (VR1) and thus may suppress other unpleasant tastes. Pain caused by chili can be quite pleasant, because damage in tissue is not involved. --Jouni Valkonen (talk) 11:37, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

I will delete that chili part because there should be no direct relationship between fungiform papillae and capsaisin. If preference for chili is altered it is more likely to be indirect result of something else. If there is reference to be shown, please discuss it and revert edition.--Jouni Valkonen (talk) 11:34, 27 December 2009 (UTC)

Like I suspected, there is no direct relationship between capsaisin and taste buds. But there are more nerve endings surrounding taste buds, so this may help feeling heat in general better (not just heat caused by capsaisin). But because this is indirect relationship and burning intensity is something that is matter of getting used to, I do not see that it should be mentioned here, because it is misleading and has no reference. --Jouni Valkonen (talk) 02:38, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

As an aside from someone who has trouble taking the heat, the heat is generally just painful pain, rather than pleasant pain; even though I may know consciously that my tongue is not, in point of fact, on fire. Darryl from Mars (talk) 04:13, 25 June 2012 (UTC)
As someone who self-identifies as a supertaster (I dislike everything on the list except the olives!) my own opinion on peppers of any kind is that the flavor of the peppers overwhelms everything else. This applies not only to peppers that have high "heat" but even to varieties like green bell peppers. They have very little heat (compared to other peppers), but if I eat pizza with green bell peppers on it, I might as well just take a bite out of the raw bell pepper itself -- the taste (but not the texture) is identical. Most people who like peppers over-use them (in my opinion) and the things they cook taste like peppers and nothing else. They seem to like them, so I guess it's ok for some. Commercially produced spice packages -- taco seasoning, etc. -- usually have a good balance of spices and the amount of any pepper that is included seems to be appropriate in most cases. Of course, this is all WP:OR, which is why I haven't added anything about it to the article. (Please ping me upon any reply to my comments.) Etamni | ✉   13:58, 12 January 2016 (UTC)
It may sound like your comment is anecdotal Etamni, but I don't think it is. Peppers are bitter, all peppers. Obviously it's not the only flavor within a pepper, but it's a bit like coffee - if you are a supertaster with a significant number of papillae, it doesn't matter what you add to it or mix it with, you always taste the coffee. Though I have the same reaction to alcohol, and don't understand why the references suggests supertasters have an aversion to only certain kinds of booze. But eating something with actual peppers (regardless of the variety) works the same way. In fact most vegetables have some level of bitter flavor in them, which invades all other flavors, especially lettuce.
Also I've already found a few articles which reference that capsaisin burn on a supertaster's tongue is more intense than for 'normal' people - and most definitely not a pleasant sensation - I'm with Darryl on this, I may know my tongue isn't literally burning, but it still feels as if it is. If I get too much of a sauce with capsaisin in it, that is one awful experience. The Nova/PBS reference specifically says the reason for this are the pain fibers surrounding the taste buds, which are already documented on the Taste page. CleverTitania (talk) 12:42, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
@CleverTitania:I agree with you about the alcohol -- I was just assuming that my aversion to the non-hop varieties was either "aversion by association" or a separately acquired preference. Uncooked onions do the same for me as the peppers but I'm fine with cooked onions, such as chopped onions in hamburger or on pizza; but I don't go out of my way to order or add them to anything. I do like onion rings -- but really, it's the deep-fried batter, not the onion, that I like! I like lettuce, but prefer the white crunchy part (less bitter than the green). I prefer most green vegetables raw rather than cooked, and avoid some of them altogether. Yay, I'm not weird! :) Etamni | ✉   13:50, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

Merge with Hypergeusia[edit]

Aren't they the same? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:56, 12 May 2011 (UTC)

No. Supertasting is a normal phenotypic variation in the population whereas hypergeusia appears to be defined as a clinical disorder. That said, I'm not convinced hypergeusia really exists clinically, as there are only a handful of pubmed cites (4) and I've never seen the term before in the taste literature. (Hypogeusia on the other hand, is a well documented disorder.)Jeh25 (talk) 12:57, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Sprouts and cabbage[edit]

If these are cooked a little I cannot taste them, if you cook them too much they taste like sulfurous poo
But raw and uncooked they are yummy
Oh and I love coffee and hate grapefruit
Chilli is okay but it can swamp a meal, so flavour rotten meat with some chilli and a supertaster has lost an advantage? (talk) 22:04, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

I guess the question is if I'd notice that rotten meat even with some chilli powder added. I likely would, I can separate tastes like that. Bcw142 (talk) 16:26, 3 August 2015 (UTC)

Any dissent with Bartoshuk?[edit]

Bartoshuk's claims are recent, in terms of their scientific examination. Have there been any dissenting views in the scientific community regarding "supertasters"? The lay community ran with this idea, and that typically results in nonsense being published in newspapers and on television programs. Is there any evidence of overreach? This article, as it stands, portrays Bartoshuk's work as provoking an immediate consensus in the scientific community, which was accurately portrayed by the popular media. That seems unlikely. wbakker2 (talk) 09:35, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

Body type[edit]

The article mentions that Fischer linked ability to taste PTC to body type, but it doesn't say how they were correlated.

I did a brief google search and came up with this overview of part of the literature on supertaste. It is pretty old [2000], but then again it IS free access [and labels all of the citations which are free to access as well], which is a good thing for a wikipedia link. It's also written by Linda M. Bartoshuk, which is another plus.

To the point: "If some supertasting females find high sweet, high fat foods less pleasant, do they then eat less of them and possibly weigh less? In small samples of elderly women (Lucchina et al., 1995) as well as younger women (Dabrila et al., 1995) supertasters tended to be thinner. More recently, in a larger study (n = 596) (Duffy et al., 1999), both female and male supertasters were thinner among subjects with normal body weight. In addition, both female and male supertasters were thinner in a sample where restrained eaters were excluded (Tepper and Ullrich, 1999)."

So, it might be worth mentioning that supertasters are likely to be thinner due to a greater dislike, on average, of highly sweet / fatty foods. This leads to them consuming less of these, hence less weight gain, etc. Is there any opposition to this idea? If anyone has access to academic papers, I suggest they try tracking down the paper in which Fischer first speculated on the link to body type so we can cite that sentence [I'm not having any luck on Web of Knowledge, but then I'm a chemist].

Incidentally, I found this free access link and it may be of use as an overview of just a small part of the early research. [Especially if the PTC page is implying that humans either can or can't taste it, with no variation in sensitivities.] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:59, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

jg — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:39, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

Normal variation so no treatment needed, huh?[edit]

Being a supertaster or nontaster represents normal variation in the human population like eye or hair color, so no treatment is needed.

It's not clear exactly what this statement means. Is it saying that because large numbers of people have this variation, no treatment to correct it is needed, but that if not as many people were supertasters, they would need to be treated for their condition?

I'd think that the only indicator for treatment is distress in one's life caused by it with no way of alleviating it by changing one's environment. So if someone lived where the only foods available were too intense-tasting, and no means were available for dulling them, one might seek treatment for one's heightened tasting ability. Blargg (talk) 00:31, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

"Normal variation" is not a function of majority:

"The phenomenon of normal variation means that, outside of everything pathological or incidental, all parts and all functions, of every known form of organism, vary; and that they vary within definite limits for each part, each species, under given basic conditions. (Aleš Hrdlička - 1934)

The statement in question clarifies its meaning by comparing supertasting to other normal variations: eye color and hair color. Further examples of normal variations are ear, nose, breast and penis sizes, difference in skin color, body height, head shape, curly or straight hair, etc. The statement means that since the "supertasting" trait is not of pathological origin but falls within the spectrum of normal variations in taste response, treatment is unnecessary. Drinks10Looks3 (talk) 17:24, 15 March 2014 (UTC)Drinks10Looks3

In other words, normal variation is normal. (talk) 22:11, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Specific Food Sensitivities:[edit]

Somehow, the following suggestion: "This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. You can help by converting this article to prose, if appropriate. Editing help is available. (October 2016)" has been placed above the title for this section. This suggestion is completely inappropriate and should be removed. This section is best by far, displayed in a list format and would be confusing and difficult to read and parse if collapsed into a prose format. Please remove the suggestion block. It is clearly wrong. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dpasek (talkcontribs) 15:38, 3 March 2018 (UTC)

Smoking and sense of taste[edit]

I wonder if smoking deserves a mention due to it significantly reducing the sense of taste due to functional changes of the taste buds. (talk) 14:20, 11 August 2020 (UTC)