What is it about kids’ taste buds? They seem almost supernaturally drawn to all things sweet, chocolatey, cheesy, and crunchy, and so opposed to some vegetables that their mouths and the veggies might as well be magnets facing the wrong direction. We all can remember foods that we hated when we were kids, but somehow grew into liking them when we got older.
If the flavors have stayed the same, then what’s changed? Is it just a matter of “forcing” ourselves to get over it, because it’s healthy and we know that we’re supposed to be eating it? Or do our taste buds actually change with age? There are some foods that we gobbled down when we were kids—Reese’s peanut butter cups, for example—that are now so incredibly sweet that it’s tough to have more than one (for some people, at least).
A recent study by the University of Western Sydney in Australia examined the taste buds of children and adults, and determined that children’s taste buds are actually more sensitive to sweet foods, and it’s widely accepted that taste buds dull over time. Children’s sense of taste is actually a lot more sensitive than that of adults, which is most likely a big part of the reason why very strongly-flavored foods are shunned by kids, while more mellow and comforting flavors (think macaroni and cheese) are far more popular. Kids also seem to be able to pick up very easily on when a food is healthy, and seem to be automatically repulsed by that fact.
Some kids grow up to eventually realize that the foods they disliked as kids are worth a second chance, so they’ll try them in different applications and one will eventually stick. For example, canned black olives or anchovies on pizza are a turnoff to a lot of people, but a high-quality Italian olive can end up being considered delicious, as well as an anchovy in a Caesar salad.
Click the link above for a gallery of foods we thought were gross when we were kids, that in many cases actually turned out to be not so bad after all.