Taste the (One Flavor) Rainbow

A shout out to my blogging friend Brad, for making me aware of this story. Brad is a gifted poet, and you can find his poems at commonsensiblyspeaking.

The story he sent me is not the kind of nonsense you would find on his blog, but everything is fair game on Borden’s Blather.

The story is actually a few years old, but I must have missed it when it first came out. And when the news came out, it apparently just shattered some people’s worlds.

A Brandeis University neuropsychologist, Don Katz, who specializes in taste, claims that Skittles, despite their many colors, are all actually the same flavor. Most gummy candies are too. And so are Froot Loops.

Here’s what Katz had to say about the situation:

“The Skittles people, being much smarter than most of us, recognized that it is cheaper to make things smell and look different than it is to make them actually taste different. So, Skittles have different fragrances and different colors — but they all taste exactly the same.”

Katz says this works because our brains are used to processing certain sensory cues together. For example, our brains associate the color yellow, a lemon smell, and a slightly acidic taste with each other. When you’re offered two of these three sensory cues, your brain will fill in the blanks.

But there are exceptions. “There are some fruity candies in which they do specific flavorings in different ones; higher-end gummy bears actually do taste different,” Katz says. “But yeah, a lot of candy companies have figured out this is just a way to save money.”

So much for tasting the rainbow.

So I think tomorrow I’ll be heading out to the grocery store to buy some Skittles, Fruit Loops, and cheap gummy bears – all in the name of science, of course.

63 thoughts on “Taste the (One Flavor) Rainbow

  1. Now I want some Skittles! I do like them a lot, even if they do taste the same. 🙂
    Now jelly beans definitely taste different though, the red ones being the best!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. They would have to undergo a radical redesign, so that they don’t look like clothespins. That way they can get away with charging an exorbitant price.


  2. So they all taste the same? I never noticed. Now I’m going start pouring my Froot Loops, Skittles, and gummy bears together into the same breakfast bowl. I mean, what the hell?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t eat gummy bears, but my own experiences with Skittles and Fruit Loops would confirm this finding as I’ve always thought they tasted the same. For many candies, this is not true. Sweets are my main vice.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Yes, our sense of smell adds a lot to our sense of taste, hence a lot of foods taste bland when we have a cold when our sense of smell is impaired. I also read somewhere that frootloops have the same flavor. Interesting.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. i remember hearing this on npir, and shared it with my colleagues who were shocked and some refused to believe it. remember the clear coke test?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for the nod, Jim! It does highlight the incredible power of the human mind and how much smell is connected to taste. Next study should be to determine if green M&Ms have the magical power they are said to hold.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve just made one contribution. I looked them up on Wikipedia and it committed the cardinal sin of calling British sweets the American ‘candies’: it doesn’t say that any more 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. so if I am reading your comment correctly, and I did my research on Wikipedia correctly, are you referring to the recent edit on the wikipedia page for wine gums? if so, bravo to you! Have you ever edited a Wikipedia page before?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes, that’s the one. It uses the hyperlinked ‘sweets’ at the beginning but previously said ‘candies’ at the end of the second para. We don’t use the word ‘candies’ here, so it seemed only right that an article on British sweets should use the proper word! First time I’ve ever changed a piece on there, the feeling of power is wonderful!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. that is awesome – this is the highlight of my day. I now know someone who posted something to Wikipedia. I might have to look for a place where I can edit something, and then write a blog about it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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