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Robots and Tablets Take Over Restaurants

Robots and Tablets Take Over Restaurants

The most recent developments enhancing the dining-out experience

iStock/Zaricm

Robot Waiter

From food-focused social media platforms to tablet winelists, touch screen ordering to imagining a future without waiters, restaurants are wholeheartedly adapting to advances in technology and tapping into a growing pool of digital resources. Here is a look at recent developments meant to enhance the dining experience:

• E La Carte Restaurant Tablets: Silicon Valley start-up E La Carte will equip 20 restaurants with touch screen tablets in coming months. While tablets have been used in restaurants before, these will allow customers to order, split checks, and pay for their meal as well.

• European McDonald's Introduces Touch Screen Cashiers: The fast-food giant plans to replace many of their human cashiers with touch screen computers at European locations. The new system will allow customers to pay only with credit or debit cards.

• Tracking Asia's Robo-Waiter Trend: During the past few years robotic servers have popped up in restaurants in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, mainland China, and Thailand. As the trend grows, experts are looking into whether it could take hold globally.

The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


The Epicurious Blog

I wrote, a while ago, about the day my mother stopped tasting for good. This can seem like a small tragedy, and of course it is, in relation to debilitating diseases and big disasters. And my mom never thought of herself as anything but a lucky woman. But even small tragedies can resonate in big ways and watching my mom chew the food she couldn&apost taste, and being cheated out of something so joyful, turned every meal into something elegiac.

So when the news about Zicam broke this week I felt a chill. Consumers, federal health regulators stressed, should stop using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal gel, and related products, because they might permanently damage the sense of smell. This raises two issues. Where have the regulators been all this time while Matrixx, Zicam&aposs maker, has been aggressively promoting the product? As it turns out there have been consumer complaints dating back to 1999, the FDA itself acknowledged investigating those complaints as early as 2004, and Matrixx has never turned over their file of complaints despite a 2007 law that required manufacturers to do so. It did, however, pay an $11.9 million settlement last January to 340 plaintiffs as part of a class-action suit.

The other issue goes beyond consumer neglect. While the loss of smell can be life-threatening (since, as the FDA stresses, people who can&apost smell won&apost detect gas leaks or smoldering fires), it also means that a lot of the consumers who can&apost smell won&apost be tasting much of anything either, since the sense of smell and taste are so inextricably linked. In fact, as much as 80% of what we perceive as taste is actually smell. And the latest breaking Zicam stories do report, inevitably, that consumers have complained of continuing diminishment or total loss of taste, along with their dead sense of smell, years after their colds subsided, which seems to suggest a permanent anosmia.

A lot of us, as a result, will be hoping the effect isn&apost retroactive, as we dump the Zicam. I&aposve always lived in fear of losing my sense of taste. Because my mom&aposs loss was so sudden and inexplicable I worry that my own taste buds are going to time out. And that sense of fear has partly been a gift, because it means I approach every meal as the last supper, and savor every flavor.

But, of course, the reason I was reaching for the Zicam myself, whenever I felt a cold starting, was because I couldn&apost face the slow loss of taste that a cold signifies, like a foreshadowing of the bigger loss I always feared. The fact that Zicam may have meant, for some people, permanently dead taste buds, the very fate they were hoping to avoid for a week or two of congestion, now infinitely extended, is the rudest kind of irony. And it underscores the power of food, how that perfect plate of pasta, and the bowl of strawberries, are among our purest pleasures.

But when our bodies become pharmaceutical playpens a little irony is the least of the dangers. Among the products the FDA warned about this week was kid-size Zicam nasal swabs. And that may mean some children will grow up tasting nothing much at all.


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