Childhood memories impact adult food choices

Food memories 'influence tastes'

Childhood food memories have a huge impact on our tastes in later life, according to a new survey.

Almost half (43%) of people questioned across the UK admitting they have not tried the food that gave them their earliest bad flavour memory again.

Smell expert, Professor Tim Jacob, from Cardiff University‘s School of Biosciences, said flavour was actually a mixture of two senses – taste and smell – and in many people, these were inherently conservative.

‘We spend our formative years being fed with things that are sweet and are quite bland,’ he said.

‘Once we have established what foods we need to survive, why change it? We often don’t want to take that risk. Because of the way our tastes develop, things like olives are an acquired taste but memory and emotion remain closely linked to flavour preferences throughout our lives.’

Professor Jacob’s work at the university involves looking at which sides of the brain are activated by good and bad smells.

Student volunteers are often are exposed to butyric acid, a chemical which smells of a combination of vomit, smelly feet and ripe Parmesan cheese, as well as nicer whiffs like almonds, pear drops and roses.

The survey also revealed that 54% of people are scared to try new foods and 24% admit that there are food they have never tried but claim they don’t like.

Of the food on offer, 26% of people would be nervous about eating rabbit and 18% would be unwilling to try olives or chillies.

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