By Salima Koroma and Ainissa Ramirez
November 23, 2015

Ah, Thanksgiving. Undoubtedly, what many of us will be most thankful for is the food. Whatever it is we choose to indulge in, whether its take-out or a home-cooked meal, the holiday is a time to kick back, loosen our belts, and settle into the comfort of food with loved ones.

But there’s no bigger Thanksgiving grinch than a cold stopping you from tasting and smelling the full extent of your grub. Really, it’s not our mouths allowing us to experience the different flavors, but our noses. Our mouths can only taste umami, fat, sweet, salty, bitter, and sour, and it’s our noses that fill out the experience. They’re incredible sensors that can taste up to 1,200 different flavors.

Watch materials scientist Ainissa Ramirez explain just how our noses help us taste the flavors that make Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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