New food, I saw you standing alone

We were talking the other night about the idea that if you eat a food that you don’t like ten times, you’ll start to like it. Was thinking about that again just now, and thought I would look it up for more info.

There are apparently studies that suggest that that can be true for at least some kids, at least if they're under a certain age; see, for example, What kind of exposure reduces children's food neophobia?: Looking vs. tasting. But for adults, TSOR isn’t bringing up solid information; I vaguely think that that try-it-ten-times idea is something that some particular writer stated as fact and it’s become a widespread belief.

And I hear that it works for many people and many foods, so I can’t say it’s not true. I’ve even had a little bit of that experience myself; for example, I now actively like cranberries in one particular context (cranberry/walnut bread), and don’t mind them in a bunch of other contexts. Though it took many more than ten tries for that to happen for me.

But off the top of my head, here’s a partial list of foodstuffs that I’ve tried lots more than ten times but still don’t like. All of these are things that many many people love; I intend no aspersions about them, they’re just not to my taste.

  • Beer
  • Brie
  • Caramel
  • Coffee
  • Goat cheese
  • Mango
  • Raw radicchio
  • Sausage

My tastes do sometimes change a bit over time, which I still find mysterious. The most mysterious example is that on my first experience with Thai food, in high school, I hated it; but when I went back to that same restaurant a few years later, post-college, I loved it, and have loved it ever since. And there’ve been other times that my tastes have changed in various ways.

But for me, it doesn’t happen reliably, even on repeated exposure.

What about y’all? Do you find that about ten tries is enough to get you to start liking something? Do you actively try to change your tastes?

(Facebook version of this post.)

2 Responses to “New food, I saw you standing alone”

  1. Sumana Harihareswara

    I LOVED the title of this post; thank you.

    I successfully learned to enjoy red wine which I initially thought tasted terrible!

    If I think food tastes gross, often because of texture or lingering aftertaste, I think that basically persists and I try it once every several years and the reaction doesn’t change. But if I simply don’t care for something I’m willing to try it again and sometimes, for instance, I have it cooked a different way than I’ve ever tried, and it’s a marvel (e.g., eggplant).

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  2. Erin McJ

    Hello, I’m an internet rando. I stumbled on this website today by searching for the phrase “radicchio snow peas scampi.” (Husband was trying to remember some song lyrics, and I wound up here.) Amusing to find the word “radicchio” here again given that you don’t like the stuff!

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