Why Drinks Taste Better When Sipped Through a Straw

published Aug 18, 2010
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

We are big fans of Fine Cooking‘s Kitchen Mysteries with the Food Geek column; Brian Geiger investigates and examines readers’ questions and kitchen science mysteries.

Here’s one post we thought was fascinating: Why some things taste better when sipped through a straw. Yes, they actually do, and no, you’re not imagining it!

Geiger goes on a long exploration of what, exactly, creates flavor on our tongues. It’s a lot more complicated than grade school science class led us to believe (no, there are not just five zones on our tongues!) but ultimately it comes down to an interplay between volatile organic compounds (VOCs), temperature, and sensation.

A straw, explains Geiger, lets you sip just a little at a time, and avoid the effects of a big mouthful of milkshake:

If you were drinking, say, a milkshake without a straw, then you get a big clump all at once. There’s not a lot of room in your mouth, and so not much air circulation. Also, the milkshake is pretty cold, so you won’t get much going on by way of nerve impulses or VOCs.

Sipping just a bit at a time lets the drink melt in your mouth faster, and release more flavor as it warms. Makes sense, right?

Read more: Why straws make the drink better – At Fine Cooking

Do you like sipping cold drinks through a straw?

(Image: Faith Durand)