Map of the Day — Misdirected Taste Buds


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Contrary to this image, there is no clear cut map of human taste buds. Photo:

Each day over the next two weeks we’ll be posting maps that have caught our eye. You know, from charting David Foster Wallace’s characters in Infinite Jest to tracking food trucks in San Francisco, these maps will have you exploring.

Despite what we learned in grade school, human taste buds aren’t divided into neat sections on the tongue. The map developed by researcher Edwin G. Boring in 1942 failed to mention umami, the fifth developed taste for savory, meaty flavors. Further more, studies have shown that you can taste sweet in the back of the tongue and bitter on the tip. While the movement for umami awareness has certainly done wonders for our palate, it’s fun to think that once a upon a time, we were convinced if properly placed on the tongue, we couldn’t taste those lima beans.


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