I don't know how to break this to you gently, so I'm just going to come out and say it: there are taste receptors on every pair of testicles. To be more specific, there are taste receptors for the flavors of sweet and umami ("pleasant savory taste") sitting atop the undercarriage of the male anatomy. So don't even bother dropping a Sour Patch Kid down there, because it won't do anything.
Okay, actually, there are taste receptors in a lot of non-balls locations, none of which really seem to taste in the common understanding of what "tasting" constitutes. According to researchers, these receptors have been found in the stomach, intestines, pancreas, lungs, brain, and anus (cool!). However, no one really knows what they're there for. I, personally, can attest to this — no matter how rapidly I guzzle down my nachos, I've never once experienced "savory" in my pancreas. As researcher Bedrich Mosinger wrote in an email to Business Insider:
[The] function of taste receptors and signaling proteins outside of taste system is still unclear... [in some areas] they seem to be part of the chemical sensing of sugars or amino acids. For the most part, though, full function of these extra-orally located taste receptors is unknown.
Deep breaths, dear reader. I am not going to bring you here just to tell you about the fact that male gonads have taste receptors on them and then leave you to deal with the shock and bewilderment for the rest of your life. Research published on July 1 in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy of Sciences sheds some light on the function of the testicular taste receptors: in studies conducted on mice, they've been found to play an important role in male fertility.
Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center were originally attempting to develop mice without sweet and umami receptors for a taste-related study, but they quickly realized that mice lacking those receptors were unable to reproduce. After conducting further studies, they found that removing these receptors from the testes — or even blocking their function — rendered the mice infertile.
Understanding this reaction could allow scientists to better understand the interaction of certain drugs with human fertility; it could also lead to the development of a male birth control pill. If the technology falls into the wrong hands, though, it could maybe lead to the development of a dystopian hellscape in which every man is wedded to a pizza.
"Your Testicles Have Taste Receptors" [Business Insider]
Image via Alenavlad/Shutterstock.