It is not commonly known that the sense of taste in people can vary quite a bit in how sensitive it is.

Most of the population have very similar levels is how strong their sense of taste is. However, there are small amounts of people that are drastically different, due to the number of taste buds they have on their tongue (and this can actually be observed by using a food coloring to see how dense yours are).

This difference has noticable effects on people. Those with really low numbers of taste buds, for example, are more likely to be alcoholic because the strong taste of many types of alcohol don't affect them as much. Those with high numbers, on the other hand, are often picky eaters, as many foods get too strong and bitter - broccoli is very often disliked by these so-called supertasters.

A famous demonstration of differences in tasting ability involves phenylthiocarbamide (PTC). For most people PTC tastes bitter, but there are many people for whom it has no taste at all.

This difference is genetically inherited for the most part, although there are cases of identical twins in which one can taste it and the other cannot.

There are also people who cannot taste vinegar. Some taste mannose (a type of sugar) as sweet, others as bitter or salty.

It is interesting to note that some variances in the perception of taste are very much variances in perception. For example, cilantro has aldehydes in its leaves, which are also present in soap. Some people hate cilantro because it tastes like soap, others love it despite it having a soapy flavor, and some love it and have no association with soap. It is unclear how much variation there is in the actual taste, but it is clear that perception (specifically, the perception that "soap is not food!") makes a big difference in cilantro enjoyment. Parmesan cheese also shares this sort of perceptual confusion, as it contains butyric acid, also found in vomit and body odor.

Icicle: Those strips of paper most likely had phenylthiocarbamide or Sodium Benzoate on them.

The example I've heard is that for many people, the flavor of cilantro is pleasant. To others, it is supposed to taste like soap. (I would have considered those mutually exclusive until TheChronicler messaged me that "And then there's the people like me, who think it tastes like soap and is still pleasant ;)."}

In my high school anatomy class, we were given little sheets of paper infused with some chemical whose name eludes me. Everybody licked his or her sheet.
To me, it tasted salty.
To others, it tasted bitter.
To others, sour.
And to still others, the paper tasted sweet.

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