Why doesn't Splenda taste EXACTLY like sugar?

In general, I’m impressed by the product. It dissolves on the tongue like sugar. It is sweet like sugar. The question is why it doesn’t taste exactly like sugar.

Table sugar is a pretty simple compound with no scent. It stimulates the “sweet” taste buds. Analagously, Splenda has no scent and stimulates the sweet taste buds. But something is different.

The sweetness feels different on the tongue and doesn’t seem to stimulate the taste buds in quite the same way. I’d describe it as a hyped-up version of the sweetness you get from chewing ordinary office paper (I don’t do this regularly but have chewed paper like gum as a kid). The aftertaste, if indeed there is one (again, how can there be an aftertaste, or “finish,” without an aroma?) is similar to a papery aftertaste.

To my tongue, diet drinks made with Splenda taste very close to the same made with sugar; still, they’re not quite the same. Why couldn’t they put the same amount of Splenda in the Coca-Cola receipt and get something indentical? (I suspect the chemical nature of the whole couldn’t be the same, by why not something pretty close?)

So why wouldn’t Splenda taste exactly like sugar? As a bonus question, please tell me why aspartame tasted like ass from the very beginning.

I think a better question is, “Why does Splenda taste exactly like drywall?” :wink: Seems like a tough flavor to replicate.

Actually, if you stick your nose in a big bowl of sugar, it has a definite caramel smell.

I drink coffee wtih sugar and splenda. For me it’s the “feel” of the sugar in the coffee. Coffee with sugar feels like it has more body and thickness on the tongue. Very much part of drinking a nice Sumatra.

I’m confused as to why you expect it to taste exactly like sugar.

“Taste” is the sensation in your brain produced by chemical recognizers in your mouth & nose. They’re designed to differentiate between thousands of different chemicals. And they’re pretty sensitive, able to distinguish between very small differences in certain chemicals of biological interest.

Despite the marketing hype, Splenda is not sugar. It’s a different chemical. It triggers different receptors in your mouth, exactly like your mouth is supposed to work. So your brain interprets it as a different taste.
Now if you mean you’re curious why the wonder-chemists at GaintCorp haven’t managed to invent something that completely fools Mother Nature into thinking it’s sugar, my answer to that is “They’re working on it.” But it’s a tall order.

Think about it. You want a chemical that human biology in the mouth reacts to exactly like sugar (ie tastes natural-sweet), but the entire rest of the human body reacts to like sawdust (ie ignores completely). Pretty magical stuff to be able to do that.

I think the OP was refering to the common idea that there are only 5 or 6 different different tastes on the tongue (sweet tastes are usually less olafactory as they are often not volatile) i.e sweet, salt, bitter, sour, and meaty. However, little is known in detail about the physiochemistry of taste . The consensus is that the tongue actually has many types of sweet receptors, and is able to distinguish many types of sweetness. See http://www.duke.edu/web/tasteandsmell/pdf%20files/168.pdf for more detail (especially page 316 and 317 - warning 2.1 Mbyte pdf)

Have you tried a mu;tiple test blind test? get six cups of coffee, with 3 splenda and 3 sugar. Have someone else mix and mark them. then taste. Can you tell the difference?

Something like 60-70% of (even die hard rabid) Coke drinkers couldn’t choose Coke over Pepsi. Much of what something tatses like is in your conception of what it should taste like.

I’ve never tasted drywall, but I hesitate to think that it could possibly taste as nasty to me as Splenda does. :frowning:

Must be nice, for either aspartame or Splenda to taste good.

Of course, with the incidence I’ve encountered of people who get migraines from aspartame, I wouldn’t use it anyway, no matter how it tasted.

These things are a hot button of mine. Actual studies of people who claim to get headaches from aspartame have discovered that the effect disappears once proper blinding is done. That is, you only get headaches from aspartame if you KNOW you’re drinking aspartame. Placebo vs. aspartame trials report “headache incidence” at chance levels. Google “Duke University” for the most famous study (but see below).

The difficulty here is that both headaches and sweeteners are so common that folks see causality where none exists (try googling for “sugar” and “headaches” or “splenda” and “headaches” – this belief has been around in various forms for years.)

I’ll be the first to admit that two studies (all the ones I’ve located that used double-blind methods, 95 or 99% confidence intervals, and a control group) does not an unassailable conclusion make. Further research might show that this phenomenon exists after all. But there’s no evidence for it presently, no matter how many “friends that get headaches after drinking diet pop” people know. Caffeine really does cause headaches in many people, for example, and it’s often in those same diet foods.

Snopes also has a number of aspartame “hoax” links, although generally about more serious complaints than headaches.

The nutcase crowd is out in full swing on this one. Google: “headache aspartame actual research” and realize that out of the first 100 links, only 3-4 point to actual research. The rest are a fascinating insight into why we need to revisit education into exactly how the scientific method works (hint: you actually need to test your hypothesis, and you can’t use “I know this works” or even “Mr. Important Doctor Person knows this works” as your test). Or my personal favorite: It’s not natural, therefore it’s OBVIOUSLY bad for you. Even if we pretend the word “natural” has meaning in this context, remember that the life span for humans in an “all natural” environment was about 25 years.

Most of these point out (correctly) that the Duke study was funded by the producers of aspartame, but then (incorrectly) state that the study is therefore less valid then their “holistic medicine random survey” method of study. Here’s a hint, folks: REPLICATE THE STUDY AND SEE IF YOU GET A DIFFERENT ANSWER. That’s how we do it here in the real world. And heck, while you’ve got an experimental population, how about testing some of those homeopathic remedies using proper blinding and controls?

This is not an attack on tygerbryght, incidentally, about whom I know nothing at all besides the content of her post.