Food and Nutrition

There’s a Scientific Reason Why Certain Food Textures Are Dealbreakers

Kells McPhillips

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Photo: Getty Images/Letizia Le Fur
I wouldn’t call myself picky when it comes to food texture. Bring on the gooey (okra), the chewy (taffy), and the mushy (week-old bananas). I’m here for all of it. Others are more particular. In recent months, I’ve seen friends reject a smorgasbord of delicious eats—including pizza crust, eggplants, and oranges—all in the name of a weird “mouthfeel.” So I went on an internet quest of find out why, exactly, textures can make or break an otherwise palatable meal.

I quickly stumbled upon food rheology—the science of finding appetizing “food structures,” the building blocks of texture. How ingredients feel in your mouth proves so consequential that those in the food industry often consult specialists, reports The Guardian. While researchers don’t yet know each and every factor that goes into affinity (of lack therof) for, say, pineapple, part of it is cultural. Westerners tend to dislike slimy delicacies, but many people raised in other parts of the world couldn’t be bothered.

Even though the why is still a big question, scientists have broken successfully broken down the various texture groups. In 2011, food sensory researchers from the Understanding and Insight Group, came up with four paradigms of “mouth behavior,” according to Popular Science. So now, you can chock up your disgust for apple sauce or smoothies to the fact that you’re more of a “cruncher.”

Are you a chewer, a cruncher, a sucker, or a smoosher? Learn your food texture type.

Chewers: Those who love something they can really work between their teeth, like gummy worms.
Crunchers: Individuals who are truly satisfied by the sound of an ultra-salty bag of potato chips.
Suckers: The ones who always have mints at their desk and lollipops on deck.
Smooshers: They like anything that requires very little effort in the chewing department. “The laziest of all eaters,” according to Popular Science.

If you fall in the smoosher category, here are some soft desserts to (not) sink your teeth into: chunky monkey brownies and paleo pumpkin bread.

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