Woman with Synesthesia Tells People What Their Names Taste Like

Some people have an uncommon condition called synesthesia, which essentially means that one of their senses is understood by another sense (or senses). One of our favorite examples of a synesthetic person is Melissa McCracken, an artist who hears colors and translates their music into gorgeous paintings. But the condition can happen in other ways, too—people’s brains get “cross-wired” in different forms. Twitter user Julie McDowall recently tweeted that she “tastes” words and encouraged people to ask her the flavor of their name.

McDowall’s tweet sparked the curiosity of many folks, and it soon went viral as people wanted to know how their moniker tastes. McDowall’s particular synesthesia, however, goes beyond identifying flavors. “I put ‘taste’ in inverted commas,” she explained. “90% is taste. Some sensations or images get through.”

All of this led to fascinating answers. According to McDowall, the name Catherine tastes like Rusk (a dry biscuit) dipped in chocolate and coffee, while Keith is minty chewing gum. If you’re named Kaitlin, you are a sponge cake. And just like McDowall mentioned, there were some monikers that didn’t have tastes but elicited a feeling or object instead. The name Barbara is a colored plastic ring and Belinda is the sensation of touching her eyelid.

Check out the full Twitter thread to see if your name comes up.

Julie McDowall has synesthesia, a brain condition in which one of her senses is understood by another sense (or senses).

There are different types of synesthesia, but for her, she can “tastes” words. In a viral Twitter thread, she told people the flavor of their monikers. Some are tastier sounding than others…


… and then there are some oddly specific ones.

Not all are taste, but sensations.

The Mail Online compiled a list of McDowall’s “greatest hits.”

h/t: [IFLScience!]

Related Articles:

Artist Visualizes How People With Synesthesia Experience the World

Why Can 70% of People Hear This Silent GIF?

If Music Sends Shivers Down Your Spine, You Have a Special Brain

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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