What is it in 1.4 that makes some gag?


Continuing the discussion from Log your opinions of 1.4 here:

So… back to the science part of this for those (like me) who are fascinated by this.

Rather than speculation (and perhaps some scientific investigation) in the other threads, I thought it might make sense to open this up as a new thread.

Just for the record, I don’t have any skin in the game here other than just curiosity. I think Soylent 1.4 is perfect as is.

But for the sizable minority who have some sort of gag reflex to 1.4 I think it’s worth trying to figure out what is causing this. I’m sure the Rosa Labs folks are hard at work on this as well and people like @vanclute are happy to wait until they figure it out… Or just speculate… (Sunflower!!)

But I’m sure I’m not alone in my fascination over this… Any time a group of people perceive something dramatically different than the way I do I become intensely curious about why we should perceive the same thing so differently! (This probably explains my fascination with politics and religion)

When it comes to 1.4 I know some are more put off by the texture. There are a lot of similarly creamy things out there but I find this less interesting than those who are put off by something in the taste. Especially when we hear some people perceive 1.4 as being too salty whereas I don’t taste any salt at all. WTF?

So I’m interested in isolating (if at all possible) the thing or things in 1.4 that are inducing these reactions in people. And more importantly, how can we scientifically isolate/discover these things? Are there any taste tests that the 1.4 gag folks could conduct (say for example, sunflower…) that could help prove one way or another what it is in 1.4 that makes them want to gag?

My google quest on topics like umami have lead me to some interesting articles… This one on cooking actually has a lot of interesting information about taste/flavor and umami and how we perceive things…


They have no frame of reference. Boost, Ensure, Slimfast, Musclemilk, you name it all of them are extremely thick fluids. I challenge any “gagger” to find a better tasting nutritionally complete drink, because I haven’t found one yet. Yes, there is a hint of salt in Soylent, but Gatorade is 10x as salty and its still drinkable.

Soylent will never be good enough for some people. Some complainers want a nutritionally complete meal replacement that tastes like a vanilla milkshake. It aint gonna happen. Do any other meal replacement drinks on earth taste like a Dairy Queen shake? Again the whole frame of reference thing.



To be fair, some of the complainers have been on Soylent since the first version. They’re not after vanilla shakes.



Speaking from my experience, I was perfectly happy with the flavor of 1.1 through 1.3 (never got the chance to try 1.0). !.4, on the other hand comes close to making me gag, and it’s not about salt. I love salt and don’t even taste it in 1.4. It’s something else entirely.

I’m not a chef or a food scientist, but I wonder if it’s the powdered oil (what was it they used again? Maltodextrin?) Could it be partially due to the lack of vanillin? I tend to believe it is more than one change that causes this in some people.

100%Food has decent flavor, as does Boost.


@proeber, the powdered oil is making use of Maltodextrin which was already an ingredient in the previous versions of Soylent.

Maltodextrin has always been there. What has changed? Different types of oil (sunflower, flaxseed, safflower), and different types of starch (potato and two types of rice instead of just oat.) So I’d start there. Is there a way we could come up with an “oil blend” equivalent to 1.4’s oil, that someone could add to 1.3 and see if it gives them the same reaction?


You’re probably on to something when you mention the powdered oil. It could also be the higher fat content. But there is definitely something in Soylent 1.4 that gives it body(thickness). One question I have for the “gaggers”. Are you trying to swallow Soylent 1.4 as you would drink a glass of water? If so, I could see why someone could possibly gag in that case. I “chew” when drinking these type of thick drinks, which thins it out somewhat, before I actually swallow it.


I don’t chew because that’s not the problem either. I like thick drinks. 100%Food is very thick and “chewy” but I just drink it and it doesn’t make me gag (it even has whole sunflower and flax seed in it and its not a problem)…

It comes down to the flavor (not salty to me). Just “cardboardy”. Rosa labs will not be able to achieve a 100% flavor neutral profile because that would be water, basically. It needs to taste fine by itself but also be able to take on flavorings well, as I believe 1.3 did.

Anyway, that’s my opinion. Everyone has one. However, from the poll it looks like a large percentage of people are at dislike or below.

I hope they figure something out for 1.5.

Another thing I would like to see is the option to purchase a 1-day trial bag instead of investing in an entire week.


Except, if 28% of people are at dislike or below, that leaves a rather significant majority of 72% at neutral or higher.


A nearly 1/3 dissatisfaction rate is not good. I understand that Soylent is a product in a niche market, so that may make a difference. But, in general, if a company has a 1/3 disapproval rating, they don’t stay in business for long.

I would like to see, and maybe these were done, polls to gauge satisfaction of earlier versions. Of course this would only apply to people who have tried them.

Personally, my favorite was 1.3.


No need to say 1/3. We can go with the actual number of 28%. If I knew we could fudge the number 5%, I would have said 77%.

Plenty of companies stay in business with 1/3 disapproval rating. Exxon, anyone?

But that is neither here-nor-there. Soylent’s product is an evolving one. The company needs to decide if v1.4 is a step in the right direction. Judging from the poll you first cited, it seems it is. Judging from another poll comparing v1.3 to v1.4, it is.

There are a good number of people who are unhappy with v1.4. I get that, you get that, it is safe to say RL gets that. But, there are a larger number of people that are happy with v1.4. That also has to register with RL.

As a point of compromise, maybe we can say it is a matter of “two steps forward, one step back?” Now it is up to RL to decide if they want to continue that momentum forward, or step back to v1.3 and start a different route forward.


Well, to be fair, I said nearly 1/3, then I just went with it because it is easier for me to type. But otherwise I agree.

I hope they find a formula that makes more people happy. I’d like to see them continue as a company.

And, BTW, I could give counter examples, I think. Best Buy vs. Circuit City would be one. :smile:


1/3 and 28%… Both three characters. :wink:

And btw, for every counter example you give, I could cite a company with 72% approval rating that succeeds. So let’s just call this one a tie. :smile:


I absolutely love the taste and texture of Boost, Ensure, Slimfast, and MuscleMilk. Dunno what that wingnut above is on about.


In my case, it is not the texture at all, it is the flavor.

I don’t know what umami is, but if it is the taste of tomatoes, then that is most definitely not it. I love tomatoes.

I’m pretty sure the sunflower seed is the culprit, but I’m not certain. What I do know for certain is that peanut butter completely neutralizes this disgusting taste.


I don’t think anyone should be satisfied with 72%.

Of the 28% who don’t like 1.4, some of them simply don’t like the new macronutrient profile. I would hope science more so than opinion will drive this in the future.

Some of the 28% don’t like the creamy (slimy) texture… Whatever.

It’s the remaining folks who are dramatically put off by the taste that interest me. And I’m not talking about people put off by the neutrality (cardboard?) but are actually tasting something vile in the mix that most of us can’t detect. Granted by this point we may be in the single digits as far as a percentage of total users, but I still find it fascinating.


Just to clarify: nobody is advocating that RL should be satisfied with 72%.

I mentioned the 72% only in the context for replying to a post stating that “from the poll, it looks like a large percentage of people are at dislike or below.” I simply did the math that the poster neglected to do.

On the flip side, if taste-wise the negatives are at single digits, percentage wise, well, I don’t think any individual food company could aim for better. Until a company offers a variety of flavors, they can never please 90%+ of the food market with a single product.

(I am agreeing with your overall post. I am also fascinated by the small percentage who are dramatically put off by the taste.)


Two words: Sugar addiction. You find that most complainers are ok with 1.4 once they’ve added some form of sweetener to it. Its really sad. Indeed some of them even become quite angry and aggressive when called out on their addiction.


You seem to be contradicting yourself.


Ha! Well I suppose you’re partially correct… I guess what I should say is I’m willing to sacrifice the portion of the 28% who don’t like 1.4 due to the macronutrient profile. Or I suppose for the quest for neutral taste (for which RL has stated as their goal). But of the remainder, hopefully for the sake of reaching a wider audience, RL will seek to improve the taste (which interests me) and the texture (which does not interest me). As I’ve stated multiple times I’m fine with all aspects of 1.4. It’s the taste profile (salt, gag-worthy or whatever) and the reaction this minority has, which I find interesting just as a curiosity.