The Science of Taste!

There is an incredible variety of juice flavours available in today’s vaping climate, but since the inception of the vape, people have been split on flavours.

Working in a vape store, you see some strong opinions regarding specific juices and even broad flavour profiles. Some people scoff at the idea of anything sweet, while others won’t touch a fruit flavour but vape custards and creams every day.

While there are common flavour trends you see a lot of, everybody has a unique palette, and today I want to investigate why. I will be talking about the senses involved with taste, the impact of genetics on taste, natural predispositions, acquired tastes, and finally, memory association with regard to taste preference.

Sensory Tasting

A fact that many people may not be aware of is that vape juices are ‘tasted’ primarily through our sense of smell. This leads to interesting challenges for juice manufacturers, and interestingly, this challenge is shared by chefs and food manufacturers as well - as, even in normal food, our sense of smell plays a significant role in our tasting experience. The brain almost completely makes up its mind about a taste before it actually tastes anything; good restaurateurs understand that outside factors such as music can impact a tasting experience significantly - classical music statistically causes people to enjoy (and therefore purchase more) wine, for example, loud music makes people eat faster, etc.


Scientists have also established that our sense of taste, as humans, is heavily impacted by our genetics.

In the same vein, different people have varying levels of taste capacity, as a result of the number of taste papillae present on their tongues. These small bumps are responsible for deriving flavour from food, and people that have more are more likely to have a stronger sense of taste, and possibly the ability to taste flavours that are lost on others. An example of this is coriander - to some people, it tastes like soap, and others find it delicious.

In vaping, juice manufacturers aim to find flavours that appeal to a broad spectrum of people and can be appreciated by all levels of taste.

Natural Predisposition

Unsurprisingly, science has found that animals (humans included) are naturally predisposed to prefer things that taste sweet, rather than things that taste bitter. There are many reasons for this, but at a basic level, foods that taste sweet are likely to contain more energy (calories) than bitter-tasting foods - for simpler animals (and infants) that act based on sensory feedback, this helps to keep them alive and healthy and causes them to gravitate toward safer, more calorically efficient foods. There is also something to be said regarding the fact that bitterness can also be associated with spoiled, unripe, or even toxic or poisonous foods. Unless you know better, putting something in your mouth that tastes bitter will cause you to want to spit it out immediately, which can be a life-saving failsafe in survival situations.

Acquired Tastes

Acquired tastes are tastes that we don’t necessarily enjoy naturally, but in a sense force ourselves to come to enjoy. This is generally due to a social or mental reward associated with the taste, or the thing that creates the taste; good examples of this being coffee, beer, and of course, tobacco cigarettes. Very few people enjoy their first beer, but because most adults enjoy it, we often force ourselves to drink it until we come to love the taste.

Nostalgia and Memory Association

The greatest factor that impacts a person’s feelings toward a taste is the associations we have to the taste in our memories, and the nostalgia that goes along with that. In vaping, many adults enjoy juice with flavours such as bubblegum, grape soda, fruit loops, et cetera - but these are not common parts of the diet for most adults. They are food items and treats that we enjoyed as children, and have strong nostalgia and positive mental associations with.

This is also the reason, inversely, that there is a huge divide on cherry flavoured juices, for example - they remind some people of medicine they used to be forced to take as a child. That is not even to say that the flavour is bad, simply that being forced to take medicine as a child is mentally linked with sickness, discomfort, and even the simple fact that you were made to take something you didn’t want to take, leading to a negative mental association.

In a similar way, many people addicted to cigarettes have some kind of positive association with the feeling they give. Many would agree that they hated the first cigarette they ever had - they stink, and they taste terrible, but smokers establish such a positive link between that taste and smell over time, with the feeling of nicotine and the social aspect of smoking, that they come to love it.


It is well documented that smell is the sense most closely linked with memory. Given that vape juice is primarily tasted through our sense of smell, it makes sense that we like juice flavours that interact with fond or nostalgic memories from our younger years. Juice manufacturers have certainly figured this out. Most companies, while there are exceptions, tend to produce juices that appeal to our nostalgia and inner child through our sense of smell, instantly reigniting a positive mental association and creating an emotional connection to the juice, even if we don’t realise it. There is often a degree of comfort associated with nostalgic memories and these vape juice flavours can deliver the same feeling.

With all that said, vape what you like to vape. Vape juice flavours are about suggesting an experience, and if you’ve found one that works for you then that’s great. If you’re still searching for it, drop by your local Super Vape and our friendly staff will help with the matchmaking.

Adam S
-Super Vape Store Oxenford

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