PTC, or phenylthiocarbamide, is a synthetic organic material. It can either taste
extremely displeasing (bitter) to someone, or it can basically be tasteless. This depends on the
genes of the taster. Someone who can taste PTC received a dominant trait from their parents.
Nearly 70% of the world populous can taste this, but smoking and habitual coffee or tea drinking
can stop one from tasting PTC (Kameswaran, Gopalakrishnan, and Sukumar, 2006).
The people who can taste the PTC are said to be supertasters. This has to do with what
spectrum of taste one can sense. The theory is that supertasters have thirty or more fungiform
papillae, or tastebuds, than normal tasters and non-tasters. Super tasters have the ability to taste
different foods more vividly, but also makes some things taste unpleasant. Coffee, for example,
would be bitter to a supertaster (Hunt, 1997). In 2000, Linda Baroshuk, the innovator if this
extensive research on taste, was asked a series of questions about her findings on the PBS
website. She was asked if there was a relationship between weight (or body mass index) and
sense of taste. She proclaimed that there is a relationship, being that supertasters can sense more
unpleasant tastes from fats and other such foods that could cause someone to gain weight. She
also has claimed that among the United States population, 25% of all people are non-tasters,
50% are regular tasters, and another 25% are supertasters (Leady, 2005).
Is being a supertaster really related to the density of fungiform papillae, or taste buds, on
one’s tongue? I hypothesize that if someone is a supertaster, then they will have a higher count
of fungiform papillae on their tongues. I predict that the people with the highest counts of