This is your brain on eggnog

By Clay Thompson
Dec. 7, 2002


Is it true that we don't really taste pepper but that it's a sensation?

Stuff like pepper or horseradish and peppermint sets off your trigeminal nerve, which has branches in your mouth and nose. Depending on what's in that stuff, the nerve registers a sensation of heat, cold or pain. Capsaicinoids, chemicals in most peppers, trigger heat and pain functions. Hot mustard and horseradish contain isothiocyanates, which vaporize and hit the trigeminal nerve in your nose. Mints contain menthol that the nerve reads as cold.

Why doesn't honey spoil?

I found a couple sources that said honey is the only food that won't spoil, but I don't know that for sure.

The National Honey Board says honey is fairly stable because it has a low water content, a low pH and "anti-microbial constituents," which I suspect are something I don't want to know about.

Reach Thompson at

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