After all the years of eating it took for you to discover the foods you love and hate the most, you may want to brace your palate for a big change. If you’re in your early 20s, just wait a decade. The foods and drinks you hated when you were younger may be the ones you love by the time you hit your 30s. And the reverse is also true: 20-somethings’ penchant for pizza and bread (hello, carbs!) is likely to wane as they edge into adulthood.
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The research comes from 200,000 users on Hater (a dating app that pairs people based on what they revere and revile). Visual storytelling site The Pudding analyzed the app’s data and came up with this handy chart to show just how much a taste — or distaste — for certain foods evolves over time.
So why the newfound interest in wasabi and goat cheese? It may be tempting to point to something elusive in our palates or a growing appreciation for more intense flavors. But while we’d like to believe we’ve naturally become more refined and sophisticated with age (like a fine wine), we tend to agree with this assessment from New York Times columnist Frank Bruni: “Our palates matter less than our perspectives.”
“Our attitudes toward, and responses to, certain foods can be altered enormously by the contexts in which we encounter them, the number of other people we see eating them, the way they do or don’t dovetail with the diets we mean to maintain,” Bruni goes on to explain in his article “A Taste You Hate? Just Wait.”
Science backs up Bruni’s take on taste. According to researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the biggest predictor of whether we’ll like a certain food has less to do with our sensitivity to, say, bitterness, and more to do with our exposure to it and motivation to like it.
Another factor that may play a part in what we love to eat? Our waistlines. Remember the good ol’ days, when you could subsist on a steady diet of pizza, pretzels and caffeine and not gain a pound. (Yeah, neither do we.) What we do remember is hitting our middle to late 20s and realizing that we suddenly had to be a lot more mindful of what we put in our mouths. Goodbye, pepperoni pizza and Red Bull. Hello, meatless burgers and sparkling water.
Of course, that said, The Pudding also found that a love of Italian food and eating out is a constant. Because Dominos might be for a season, but good pasta is forever!
What Do YOU Think?
What foods did you love in your late teens and 20s but can’t imagine eating today? Do you think the food’s “healthy” factor influenced you, or was it something else? Any foods you used to hate but now love? What changed for you?