General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Is flavor a shape?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10418points) July 7th, 2010

If it is, and I suspect so, then could you make a small object with an outer layer that had a permanent flavor that wouldn’t dissolve?

Like a gumdrop that wouldn’t melt away.

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29 Answers

Seek's avatar

Flavor is not a shape, and not even Willy Wonka could perfect the Everlasting Gobstopper.

dpworkin's avatar

The receptor that the molecule would bind to would stop responding to the stimulus after a while.

ucme's avatar

Some tastes suggest to me that if a shape is there then it will resemble a fist. Smacks you in the gob.

Response moderated
dpworkin's avatar

Flavor most definitely is a shape. That’s how it works, folks.

JLeslie's avatar

That aspergers guy who is a mathmatical savant says numbers become shapes in his mind, specific shapes and colors. I guess for some people maybe flavors are shapes. Not for me though.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
dpworkin's avatar

Flavor molecules have to be the right shape to bind to the receptors on your tongue, and the aromatics have to be the right shape to bind to the receptors in your vomeronasal organ, and that’s what makes flavor.

cazzie's avatar

People who have cross over sensations like this are more common than you think. Colours have feel, tastes have shape. My autistic step son will not eat anything red or slightly resembling red, like pink. He is sure that it chokes him. The situation is called Synethesia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

Numbers have full-on personalities to me.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
CMaz's avatar

Is crunchy a shape?

jazmina88's avatar

flavor is color. not shape. crunchy is kitty litter.

wilma's avatar

Flavor can have a shape, for me anyway, and color definitely has texture.
Did I just reveal too much?

shared3's avatar

Flavor is a shape, at the molecular level…not sure if that’s what you’re talking about though…

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My XXX wife was shaped like a sour puss. Boy did she ever leave a bad taste in my mouth.

UScitizen's avatar

Your entire question presupposes a physical impossibility.

dpworkin's avatar

@UScitizen What makes you say that? It is a perfect description of flavor, save for the fact that flavor is many shapes, impinging on receptors which also have just the right shape to receive the flavor molecules.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@UScitizen, here you will find the truth has many bucklers. Why not aim then, as I have, to measure your answer. I think if you do the habit will follow you away from this site, and into your life where soon you will find ears pricking to your every cough.

I see what you mean though. You meant that taste, a sense…is by no means a shape. Which, as you say, seemingly, is correct on its face. It is not however.

Trance24's avatar

I am so lost on this are you trying to say for example a circle or square or whatever is a flavor?

Ltryptophan's avatar

When you taste, you are tasting the shape of the foods molecular structure. Taste is not some ethereal mysterious osmosis process where your tongue and food just touch and magic happens. If this were the case you could taste food with your finger now couldn’t you.

So when you bite into chocolate each individual taste bud gets bombarded with tiny chocolate shaped particles. Your tongue feels the shape, and tells your brain. Your brain decodes that as the shape of chocolate. Maybe it lets your digestive system get a jump start on which tools it will be needing to get the job done.

Regardless of why this happens…I was thinking if foods molecular shape is knowable, couldn’t we make a permanent molecular sculpted surface that fit the same shape pattern as say chocolate. That way it wouldn’t wear out, and would trick your tongue.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Trance24 Please reference the comments of the honorable Mr. @dpworkin. Or have dinner with my XXX wife. Either way, we must conclude, that flavor is in fact, a shape.

cazzie's avatar

Oh! I get what you mean now! Sure… taste and smell are chemical. The Willy Wonka comparison is close then. The ‘everlasting gob stopper’. The thing is, chocolate is more than just a flavour in your mouth. The melting sensation, the way it coats your mouth… it’s all good. You consume fake taste molecules all the time, (vanillin for example), but they are always used up. Coating an object with a specific permanent taste would be very difficult. It would have to withstand the slightly acidic and very wet environment of your mouth. Flavours have to be water or oil soluble to work on your tongue, so by definition, they have to be ‘used up’ to taste.

Does this help?

Ltryptophan's avatar

@cazzie yeeesssss….thank you very much…

CMaz's avatar

In a way… When I think of eating an apple I think round object.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I like the flavor of blue. What shape is blue?

dpworkin's avatar

@Ltryptophan It’s a clever idea, but regardless of how long the molecule existed, the receptor would soon stop firing. Think of it as being around a constant smell, like in a workplace. You soon get accustomed to it and don’t even notice it. That’s why we are our own worst judges of when we need a shower.

Ltryptophan's avatar

or if you are defocating…

cazzie's avatar

@dpworkin YES… then there is that too. It’s kind of like… ‘if your tongue tastes… what does your tongue taste like… ’ I love the question. Anyway… yes… it is also a ‘what we get used to’ scenario. My husband can’t seem to smell his own feet any more. (jk) But, yes, often, if we are exposed to the same sensation, our perception can adjust. That’s not to say, that you couldn’t take the ‘flavour ball ’ out of your mouth and then use it again another time.

The sensation of taste effects our digestion as well, don’t forget. Certain flavours can trigger certain things… Ginger or mint can calm your stomach. If we have a flavour in our mouth, our stomach starts churning out acids in anticipation. Ever notice getting hungry from chewing gum? Certain flavours can also stimulate hunger. Anise (licorice) is known to help spark appetite. (Pernod aperitif anyone?)

So, having a permanent flavour in your mouth probably isn’t a GREAT idea. It all works like it does for a reason.

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