Taste Test Science: Fool Your Tongue!

3.8 based on 92 ratings
Updated on Mar 20, 2014

Our sense of smell is so tied up with our sense of taste that 70-75% of what we taste actually comes from our sense of smell! Have you ever had a cold, and food just tasted bland or boring? It's because you couldn’t smell it as well as taste it as it went into your mouth. In this experiment we are going to show how strongly our sense of smell controls what we taste.

What You Need:

  • Apple
  • Vanilla extract
  • Cotton ball

What You Do:

  1. Have your child take a bite of apple and pay close attention to how it tastes. Is it tart and tangy? Does it taste like an apple? Of course it does!
  2. Now add several drops of vanilla extract to the cotton ball.
  3. Hold the cotton ball near, but not touching, your child's nose as he takes a second bite of the apple. Encourage him to continue to smell the cotton ball while he chews.

What Happened?

The first bite tasted like an apple should taste. The second seemed to taste like vanilla. Why? The nerve endings in the tongue only identify sweet, sour, salty and bitter—other sensations are due to smell. When the vanilla was stronger than the apple smell the apple "tasted" like vanilla.