Why Your Drink May Taste Better With A Straw, According To Science

Although the days of plastic straws are largely numbered due to environmental concerns, there are still other alternatives available for those looking to sip their soda, cocktail, frozen dessert, or smoothie. You may want to accept a straw if they're offered because as it turns out, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to the flavor of your drinks.

There's science behind this phenomenon. As Taste of Home explains, "when we take a sip of something, the receptors in our nose pick up volatile organic compounds" known as VOCs, which are responsible for creating the aromas that excite our senses and taste buds. The Kitchn adds that temperature also plays a role in how we taste — the colder a food or drink, the harder it can be to perceive its VOCs.

For example, if you drink a milkshake through a straw rather than tossing it back straight from the glass, it comes through in smaller amounts that will not only melt in your mouth more quickly, but have a stronger taste, too.

The straw that stirs the drink also improves its flavor

Drinking a milkshake sans straw is likely going to involve ingesting it in larger amounts. This will result in a colder experience that not only tastes less flavorful, but might also trigger what Johns Hopkins Medicine calls sphenopalatine ganglionneuralgia — known colloquially as brain freeze or ice cream headache.

Chillier temperatures can adversely affect taste, Taste of Home explains, because the cold can dull your senses and hinder the receptors in our noses that are primed to perceive VOCs. The gradual sipping of a milkshake through a straw, on the other hand, is much more successful at getting those VOCs to work their sensorial magic.

According to Fine Cooking, air circulation also plays a role in the science behind why a straw improves the flavor of a beverage. In the case of the milkshake, not using a straw (which, you'll recall, typically results in consuming more beverage at once) reduces the amount of room in your mouth, giving air less room to circulate. But with a straw, you take in tinier bits of milkshake. This allows for greater air circulation, which conveniently also heats up your mouth, releasing more VOCs that crash over you like a wave of flavor.