Jul 18, 2021 - Health + Traits

23andMe’s New Trait Report Puts a Cherry on Top of Your Ice Cream Preference


We don’t need an excuse to scoop up ice cream, but if you’re looking for one July 18th is National Ice Cream Day.

For those who can’t indulge on that day, it’s OK because the whole month of July is designated as National ice Cream Month. With those extra days and 23andMe’s Ice Cream Flavor Preference trait report, you do a little experiment of your own into you’re more likely to ask for vanilla or chocolate on top of your ice cream cone.

Several studies have shown that our taste preferences are in part explained by genetics. We wanted to know if we could find a genetic signal associated with ice cream flavor preference. It turns out we can.

You Scream, I Scream, We all Scream for Ice Cream

By using a statistical model and data from more than 980,000 23andMe research participants, our scientists were able to identify 739 genetic markers associated with preferring vanilla ice cream to chocolate. Pulling those genetic markers together with non-genetic factors — such as age and sex — we developed a model to estimate the likelihood of preferring vanilla ice cream to chocolate.

Obviously your ice cream flavor preference is influenced by far more than genetics — culture and environment for instance — but as with other types of food preferences, your genetics is the cherry on top. A person’s preference may be related to their sense of smell. Indeed many of the genetic variants we found associated with ice cream preference are in or near olfactory receptor genes, like OR10A6 and OR5M8. Those genes contain instructions for proteins that help detect odors. While you’re eating, your brain combines information from odors and your taste buds to perceive flavor.

23andMe Trait Reports

Our Ice Cream Flavor Preference trait report is among more than 30 fun and interesting (and not so vanilla!) trait reports available to 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service customers. Among those reports are three others that specifically look at food traits, like a person’s preference for Salty v. Sweet snacks, or their aversion to Bitter Taste, or Cilantro. Your traits are determined by a complex interaction between your DNA, your environment, and your lifestyle. Sometimes just a handful of genetic variants play a role, but more often hundreds or thousands of variants influence a trait.

Check out your Ice Cream Flavor Preference trait report here.

Not yet a customer? Find out all that 23andMe has to offer here.

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