So, Do Testicles Have Taste Buds Or Not?

It's about time someone stepped up to the plate.
Carol Yepes via Getty Images

I am not a sleuth or a professional detective. I’m not even an investigative journalist (unless you count that time I wrapped my whole oven in clingfilm to test a cleaning hack).

But I do know that when the public needs answers, I should do my best to find them. And right now, the internet’s crossed wires about potential testicular taste buds is one such case.

People have publicly admitted to dipping their nethers in soy sauce, permanently altering the sashimi-eating experience of thousands.

Some are even using the tastebud theory to advocate for bacon-flavoured condoms, thoughts of which are themselves a bulletproof method of contraception.

Something must be done to find the answer in this madness. Should these penile pioneers be encouraged, or is gonad gastronomy a horror too far for our beleaguered times?

Here are the two warring theories.

Let’s start with the testicular tastebud truthers

Picture the scene: a lab, 2013. A new day dawns, crisp and free of ball taste buds discourse. The outside world rises gently, unaware of the havoc soon to be wrought as the scientist’s paper on the topic heads from publisher’s desks to the public. Such innocence will never be known again.

OK, I’m being a bit dramatic here, but the point is – yes, a 2013 paper *did* find the presence of taste buds on the testicles of mice. So many, in fact, that they had an entire section of the paper dedicated to “taste receptors and sperm physiology”.

In fact, apparently “the presence of taste receptors in the body is an area of vigorous study. In addition to the tongue, researchers have found them in the lungs, stomach, urinary bladder, pancreas, and testis.”

And now, for the dipping deniers

While yes, your body is covered in taste receptors – that area very much included – it seems that they don’t do the same job as taste buds.

“Receptors present in the testicles don’t connect to the taste centre or the gustatory cortex in the brain,” food nutrition scientist Emma Beckett told Inverse.

And as Yahoo! Finance says (side note – why finance? Family jewel stock?): “Besides, as far as scientists know, the taste receptors are on the inside of the testicles. Unless you inject them with soy sauce, this viral challenge wouldn’t work.“

I had hoped I never needed to say this, but having looked at the experiments thus far, I feel obliged to tell you not to turn to the needle in the name of soy sauce/sack experimentation.

So, the next time you hear about taste buds on any of the many other places they exist on the body, please step away from the Kikkomans. We deserve better, people.