Ever play that game in grade school where you’d close your eyes, hold your nose and open your mouth and then a friend would put something (hopefully food) in your mouth and you’d try and guess what it was? No? What you weren’t as trusting and, yeah, gullible as I was? Wuss.
But seriously, you should try it. Smell seriously impacts our perception of taste. If you’ve ever had a really bad head cold or severe allergies then you probably already know what I’m talking about. And if you’ve never been that sick, well what are you waiting for?? Go find some toddlers and let them feed you fish crackers off the floor. At the mall. In the bathroom. Yep, that ought to do it. (Hey – it’s all for research!)
Apple or Pear? Very Small Rocks.
Back when I had the Flu from Hades, I ran into this situation. One of my children gave me a bite of some cut-up fruit that I assumed was an apple. But my son insisted was a pear. And then I realized that all of it tasted like dirt and I was going back to bed, leaving the demolished kitchen for my husband to deal with. But the point is that without smell, I might as well have been eating rocks. Just because I like to experiment I also tried this with a few jelly beans (oh, wait, I did that because I just like jelly beans) and the outcome was the same: very small rocks.
Sticking Things Up My Nose
This may be the only instance of a parent actually telling their child to stick a foreign object up their nose: Thanks to my father and his love for zinc, I’ve been a devotee of Zicam for years. So when about a week ago I started feeling a little pre-sickish, I ran to the store. What can I say? I’m a little gun shy these days. I would give almost anything to never ever be that sick again. (Seriously – worst flu ever!) Maybe it’s just the placebo effect but I swear the zinc stuff works.
Normally with Zicam you stick it up your nose and inhale gel (yeah it’s as pleasant as it sounds) but my drugstore was out of that kind so instead I went with the kind you spray in the back of your mouth. After several doses of the nasty stuff – it should have been labeled “Mint Gym Sock Flavor” – something interesting happened. I temporarily lost my sense of taste. Completely. Everything tasted the same to me – icky. (Note: Zicam’s lawyers officially dispute that their product can make you lose either taste or smell.)
Being, well, who I am, I immediately wondered if anyone had ever tried this as a diet aid. (Which of course people have. And no, I’m not going to link to them. You want quackery, go find it yourself.) With my newly sterilized mouth, I tried eating jelly beans – they tasted exactly like regular beans did to me: like minty gym socks. And who wants to eat socks? Well, besides my baby. (Child won’t eat fresh strawberries but give him a shoe or sock and you’d think it was creme brulee.)
Purposely eliminating your sense of taste or smell to lose weight is just wrong. But it brings up an interesting point. This recently released study showed that many of the tastes that humans identify as sweet, many other animals (including monkeys!) do not. In fact, the only other thing that shared our taste buds was… wait for it… the fruit fly. And we all know how those little porkers eat.
Our affinity for sweet is certainly linked to our weight. This study made me wonder if some people taste sweet “more” than other people. This study says that this is so and that people who taste sweet “less” eat more of it to get the taste they crave and generally weigh more than their “more” sweet-tasting counterparts. Another interesting factoid from this study: a family history of alcoholism is linked to a genetic predisposition for sweets. Well, that explains the jelly beans.
PS> Tell me that video at the beginning doesn’t make you laugh out loud. Every. Single. Time. If it doesn’t, I really don’t know if we can be friends.