The Science of Sour | God's World News
The Science of Sour
Science Soup
Posted: March 01, 2024
  • 1 sourcandy
    Do you like sour candy? (Getty Images)
  • 2 sourcandy
    Different types of acids make sour candy sour. (123RF)
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    Citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid are found in fruit. (Pixabay)
  • 4 sourcandy
    The sour candy market may be worth as much as $2.7 billion by 2030. (AP/Kathy Willens)
  • 1 sourcandy
  • 2 sourcandy
  • 3 sourcandy
  • 4 sourcandy


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Sour candy is big business. By 2030, the sour candy market may be worth as much as $2.7 billion. That makes us wonder: Why do people like sour candy so much?

There’s science behind the sting. Start with taste. Add some chemistry and human psychology. Pucker up. Things are about to get sour.

The human tongue can detect five primary tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, umami, and sour. Sourness is associated with acids in foods. It activates taste receptors on the taste buds.

Sourness can come from a few types of acid, which can come from different fruits:

  • citric acid (citrus fruits)
  • malic acid (apples, cherries)
  • tartaric acid (grapes, bananas, tamarinds, and also citrus fruits)

When these acids meet taste receptors, ZING! Sour signals rush to the brain.

And the brain loves it. But it’s also kind of scared. The brain interprets the acidity as a potential threat. The brain tells the mouth: Make spit! (God designed our saliva partly to protect from potential harm from acids.) Our bodies grow alert. And the brain releases dopamine—a chemical that makes us feel good.

That’s the brain science. Now let’s add the psychology. (Psychologists study how humans think and behave. Some even study how they act when they eat sour candy!) What would a psychologist say about sour candy? Probably that people like to pucker in groups. Ever shared a bag of Warheads or Toxic Waste candy with friends? Have you dared each other to try the most sour variety? A psychologist would probably also say that many people love the tanginess because they remember eating it as kids.

God gave us taste buds. He wired us to enjoy. He even made our tongues to appreciate the surprise of sour.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! — Psalm 34:8

Why? God had enjoyment in mind when He created people—right down to their tiny taste buds.