Supertasters have long ruled the world of sommeliers and chefs, but our knowledge of their existence is still a relatively new phenomenon.
As The Atlantic notes, a recent article by Andrew Haan revealed the incidental nature of these supposed superhumans. The scientists involved even offer a first hand account of the revelation that took place in 1931:
Some time ago the author had occasion to prepare a quantity of phenyl thio carbamide, and while placing it in a bottle the dust flew around in the air. Another occupant of the laboratory, Dr. C. R. Noller, complained of the bitter taste of the dust, but the author, who was much closer, observed no taste and so stated. He even tasted some of the crystals and assured Dr. Noller they were tasteless but Dr. Noller was equally certain it was the dust he tasted. He tried some of the crystals and found them extremely bitter. With these two diverse observations as a starting point, a large number of people were investigated and it was established that this peculiarity was not connected with age, race or sex. Men, women, elderly persons, children, negroes, Chinese, Germans and Italians were all shown to have in their ranks both tasters and non-tasters.
As a nontaster myself, I'm predisposed towards feeling particularly resentful when it comes to supertasters and all the little perks they enjoy. Still, it's interesting to think that had this accidental discovery never happened, we might have been entirely unaware of the modern day mutants walking among us, just like normal people. [The Atlantic]