It’s sad, but true: There are some people in this world who just don’t like cheese. Naturally, these people have bad taste and are completely wrong, but they exist. And now, scientists are saying there might be a legitimate reason behind this obvious lapse in judgment.
According to a study published last October out of France (because, duh), people who say they don’t like cheese still experience activity in the “reward” area of the brain when eating it. While researchers aren’t exactly sure why this occurs, they suspect it could be due to social conditioning. But even more interesting is that study participants who did not like cheese found their appetites suppressed when they smelled or saw cheese.
“The brain area that is normally activated when we are hungry, the ventral pallidum, was no longer activated,” the researchers told Thrillist in an interview. Translation: Study participants’ brains recognized the cheese as desirable, but did not personally want it.
Another potential reason? Genetics. The genetics testing company 23andMe researched why certain people don’t like cilantro—they wanted to see if it had to do with environment or culture or genetics. And according to their survey, most people who dislike cilantro have a specific genetic variation that causes cilantro to taste like soap.
“The same chemical can be found in both appealing and unappealing places—cheese and body odor,” the experts at 23andMe explain on their blog. “Whether stinky cheese and cilantro are delicious or disgusting depends on your particular perception of many different chemicals.”
And do you remember that French study? In a survey of 322 French people, 11.5 percent of them hated cheese. And the kicker: 47 percent (so nearly half!) of those people “individuals indicated that at least one family member also disliked cheese,” the study authors said, which also indicates some sort of genetic, cheese-hating link.
So there you have it: science says cheese-haters are genetically mutated and they can’t help it. Also, more for the rest of us.