Why do some foods taste horrible?


Have you ever wondered why there are foods that everyone seems to love, like chocolate, while others don't have many fans?

Let's discover the science behind tasty and yucky.

In collaboration with Professor Jackie Blissett - Coventry University

Thanks but no, thanks!

Click on the labels to find out more about why many people struggle with the taste of certain foods.

Get in my belly!

Generally, what food looks like is really important for us to decide if we'll like it or not. For example, food with spots, like a banana that has a brown bit on it, doesn't always look great.

But this can extend to things like packaging for foods like crisps. Scientists think this is because we're looking out for ‘clues’ as to what food will taste like. Spots on food might suggest it's not fresh or OK to eat. Different packaging can make you think that the food is something you haven’t tried before, which might make you suspicious or less tempted to try it.

In many surveys, popular foods with children like you are chocolate, pizza, ice cream, pasta, chips, crisps, sweets, white bread, biscuits and cookies, but also apple, grapes and strawberries. In short: sugar and fat! Vegetables aren’t usually in children’s lists of favourite foods, but the good news is you can learn to like them by trying them, little and often.

Bananas go a bit spotty when they get older.

Class discussion time

Working in pairs, discuss what you've just discovered about why we don't like certain foods. Answer the questions below.

• Do you like vegetables?

• Think of a vegetable you love and what you like about it.

• Now do the same with one you dislike: is it their taste, texture or smell you don't like?

• How much do you like eggs and dairy products like milk?

• If you don't like them, do you find it easier to eat them when they're an ingredient, for example in a cake?

• Do you like meat and fish?

• What clues do you look for before deciding if you're going to taste something or not?

Taste - Teaching resources
Taste Investigation - Classroom presentation
Our investigations