Sweetness: A Taste Overview
Sweetness is one of the five basic tastes. It is universally associated with pleasure and reward, which explains why sweet foods are so widely favored and craved around the world.
Natural vs Artificial Sweeteners
Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup have been used for millennia. Artificial sweeteners, however, are a modern invention designed to provide sweetness without the calories found in sugar.
Sugar's Global Journey
Sugar cane, native to Southeast Asia, embarked on a global journey over millennia. It was an expensive luxury in medieval Europe, becoming widely available only after the establishment of Caribbean plantations.
Chocolate's Bittersweet Start
Chocolate, initially a bitter drink in Mesoamerica, was sweetened by Europeans with sugar and milk. This transformed it into the beloved confection we know today.
Fruits: Nature's Candy
Fruits are often called 'nature's candy' due to their natural sugars. Interestingly, domesticated fruits are selectively bred to be much sweeter than their wild counterparts.
Miracle Berry Sweet Illusions
The miracle berry, a West African fruit, contains a protein that temporarily makes sour foods taste sweet, illustrating the complex chemistry behind taste perception.
Honey's Eternal Shelf Life
Honey is known for its indefinite shelf life. Archaeologists have even found pots of edible honey in ancient Egyptian tombs, showcasing its natural preservative properties.