The Science Behind The People Who Hate Chocolate

Most people like chocolate. Some absolutely love it. During holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Halloween, Chanukkah and Christmas, it’s a beloved treat. And that’s true of non-holidays as well. The average American eats around 10 pounds of chocolate per year, though we aren’t the nation scarfing down the most. That title belongs to the Swiss, who supposedly consume more than 19 pounds of it per capita each year.

Given how beloved chocolate is, it might come as a surprise to find that many among us don’t fancy chocolate. Generally, these dissenters fall into two categories: those that specifically don’t like American chocolate and those who find that domestic and exotic chocolate alike tastes overwhelmingly bitter.

Both phenomena can be explained with science.

A great number of non-Americans hate on our chocolate, and for a pretty good reason. Most American mass-produced chocolate contains butyric acid, the chemical compound that lends vomit its unmistakable sour taste and smell. Yes, you read that right: the flavor profile of a chocolate bar and food poisoning overlap.

Butyric acid is a byproduct of running milk through controlled lipolysis, a process that breaks down fatty acids. The butyric acid isn’t filtered out of the final product. Americans are raised on the stuff and seem fine with it. But the rest of the world really can’t stand the bitter, sometimes putrid, undertone of our chocolate.

Now, on to the next category of chocolate haters: people with genetically mutated tongues. That’s right. X-Men for flavors walk among us. It’s forecasted that one in four people are supertasters born with more tastebuds than the rest of us and this causes a sensitivity to strongly flavored foods. One bite of a high-end, bean-to-bar 85 percent cacao piece of chocolate will likely send them shouting about the bitterness of the supposed “sweet” you’ve subjected them to.

Mass-produced American chocolate won’t yield a more favorable reaction, however, as supertasters also tend to pick up on the butyric acid we now know is in it, so really chocolate is a lose-lose experience for them.

So if you’re looking for a good Valentine’s Day present for your beloved non-American or supertaster, we suggest steering clear of that Whitman’s Sampler and choosing one of these other gifts perfect for foodies.