According to the world’s top scientific source, TikTok, it is possible for men to taste things through their balls. The basis of this theory: a girl named Regan who saw a 2013 headline from The Daily Mail that reported that testicles have taste buds. Though the study that article cited pertained only the junk of white mice, another report on extraoral bitter taste receptors, published in the Journal of General Physiology in 2017, confirmed the presence of these “testicular taste buds” in humans. It’s a bit of a long read, though, so it’s understandable how there are some who skimmed over the parts about taste receptors also being found in the intestines, the heart, and the lungs, and jumped straight to the part about that ever so briefly mentioned the balls. And it also makes sense that, after hearing this news, they would start rubbing soy sauce on their junk and posting videos of it on the internet.
While TikTok videos of men screaming “OH MY GOD I CAN TASTE THE SAUCE” are certainly compelling evidence, Popular Science is, for some reason, being a party pooper and telling men that, no, they absolutely cannot taste soy sauce through their balls.
As writer Sara Chodosh explains it, taste buds are small pores that contain a large concentration of sensory cells, and those cells are covered in thousands of receptors which, when they come into contact with a flavorful molecule—like sodium chloride (table salt) or sucrose (white sugar)—sends a signal to the medulla oblongata, which then relays the message to the brain’s gustatory complex, where the signals are then interpreted as individual flavors. In short: we get messages from our tongue, but we actually taste with our brain. This is how much of the human body functions: a cell receives a signal, it shoots the message up to the brain, the brain reacts appropriately. The taste receptors that have been discovered throughout the body aren’t meant for “tasting” as many of us define it: they’re for detecting the same sort of molecules that our tongue occasionally comes in contact with, but the information is registered and processed entirely differently.
As numerous iterations of these receptors are found all over the body, science is still researching their myriad of functions. Experiments with genetically engineered mice have show that testicular taste buds could potentially play an important role in sperm production; those same experiments note that said testicular taste buds aren’t located on the scrotum, where they’d serve absolutely no purpose. They’re located inside the nutsack, where they’re tremendously busy helping sperm out and have no time to be tasting soy sauce.
Even though Popular Science says that it’s scientifically impossible to taste things through the balls, since there are no cranial nerves connecting the the nutsack to the brain’s tasty sector, I decided to test this theory out for the benefit of our readership. And, since I don’t possess balls of my own, I forced my husband to do it. His verdict? No, you cannot taste soy sauce through your balls, though it will make them smell quite appetizing, especially if you whisk it with some plum sauce and five spice powder. Perhaps my husband’s Asian Ball Glaze (patent pending) could one day become a vital, delicious part of men’s summertime hygiene routines.