It’s not true that everything’s better with bacon.
There are foods that we simply loathe.
Some tastes are hardwired at birth for our protection and survival. We like sweet and dislike bitter—sugar means energy and bitterness can be a warning sign of toxicity. Savoriness signals protein, and an appealing saltiness helps our bodies get necessary sodium. Your genetic makeup plays a role in taste: Everyone perceives flavors a little differently, with different levels of intensity.
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That’s the nature; then there’s the nurture.
Context and experience influence how we taste by shaping how we feel about what we eat. Our perceptions and biases are influenced by sociological and cultural factors like ethnicity and economics, and there are also the psychological associations we make with foods that are based in our personal histories and memories of meals gone by.
Flavors can be polarizing, like blue cheese and black coffee—they are as beloved by some as much as they are detested by others. There are foods like spinach and Brussels sprouts that elicit a child’s knee-jerk response, and many will carry it into adulthood. And then there are foods that are just plain difficult, like organ meats and odd sea creatures. It’s not that the taste is so objectionable, but the texture, aroma, or even the mere thought of these foods can cause queasiness in a wide swath of eaters. The Journal of Psychology surveyed more than 75,000 participants to come up with a list of the most hated foods in America, and they found that polarizing tastes, childhood prejudices, and the odd, nasty bits are all represented.
Disgusting or delicious? These are the 10 most hated foods (in order of revulsion):
- Lima beans
- Brussels sprouts
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