Summer is peak ice cream season, and when you’re heading to your local scoop shop, chances are, you already know what you’re going to order. Maybe you’re more inclined to eclectic flavors, like earl grey and cardamom, and you believe the more mix-ins, the merrier, relishing in finding large chunks of chocolate in each bite. Or, you might gravitate toward plain chocolate ice cream, considering yourself an ice cream purist. However, whatever your preference is, it may have a lot more to do with genetics than you realize—and 23andMe has the data to back it up.
On June 28, the biotechnology company released a new trait report that, by examining data from over 980,000 23andMe research participants, estimates how likely you are to prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate, and vice versa. Of course, there are still external factors that determine your favorite flavor, such as culture and environment, according to the 23andMe announcement—but the company refers to genetics as “the cherry on top,” as it often is with other food preferences like aversions to cilantro and bitter taste. In their research, 23andMe scientists identified 739 genetic markers associated with preferring vanilla ice cream to chocolate, and then combined that information with “non-genetic factors, such as age and sex,” ultimately creating a model to predict people's ice cream flavor of choice.
The end results? It may come down to smell—many of the genetic variants the team found are “in or near olfactory receptor genes, like OR10A6 and OR5M8, which contain instructions for proteins that help detect odors.” And apparently, women are also more likely to prefer chocolate ice cream to vanilla—56 percent prefer chocolate while 44 percent are on team vanilla. Men, on the other hand, are almost evenly split, with vanilla just squeaking ahead at 51 percent, and chocolate at 49. To find out about your own flavor disposition and other traits, you can check out 23andMe's Health + Ancestry Service kit, which we've included below.
Speaking of ice cream, if you’re planning on making a batch at home this summer, we have plenty of recipes—all you have to do is pick between making this olive oil flavor (from Portland’s famous Salt & Straw) or peach-blueberry version first.
23andMe DNA Test - Health + Ancestry Personal Genetic Service, $200 at amazon.com