Certain foods taste hot like peppers and are measured by the Scoville scale. Some foods also taste "cold". Mint is the main one that comes to mind. Is there a similar scale for this kind of taste?

If there isn't (or maybe even if there is) is there any reason we couldn't just use the same methodology as we do with the Scoville scale?

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    Are there any other foods than those which contain 'menthol' which do this? I can't think of any. [& bizarrely, menthol is just as much an irritant as capsaicin.] – Tetsujin Dec 11 '19 at 20:25
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    @Tetsujin some of the sugar alcohols, especially erythritol actually absorb heat when dissolved, giving a cooling effect. Not quite the same, but a similar sensation – Chris H Dec 11 '19 at 20:36
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    @Tetsujin Urea as well, although not commonly used, but in for example en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ischoklad – Viktor Mellgren Dec 12 '19 at 9:48
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    @JimmyJames I thought it was sugar-water. So even if sugar doesn't help neutralize the coldness, the concentration of the menthol (or other active ingredient if we're talking about something other than mint) will be reduced which will also reduce the effect of the mint right? – ToxicGLaDOS Dec 12 '19 at 17:26
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    Yes the sugar is mixed in water along with the test sample but it's the sugar that is doing the neutralizing. The more contemporary approach is to measure the compounds directly and then convert to Scoville units. We just don't have a corresponding historical methodology for mint, it seems. – JimmyJames Dec 12 '19 at 17:36

There are thermal sensation scales, and they are applied in food research too, although their primary use tends to be focused on clothing or environment. They tend to be categorical rather than ratio scales, and don't depend on the presence of a single compound the way scoville does. Despite checking several likely sources (a book on neurogastronomy, a thesis on measuring the perception of food - mostly focused on texture, but also discussing thermoreceptors) I didn't find a mention of a specific culinary scale that measures menthol concentration.

Instead of a specialized scale, industrial users of menthol products seem to simply use the relative menthol content, such as selling an essential oil that with "60% menthol". And the general public doesn't seem to have created a cult around menthol content the way it has done for capsaicine content - personally, I know more people who care for the scoville number of the chilli they are eating than people who can tell the difference between spearmint and apple mint.

I suspect that, while creating such a scale is possible, nobody has bothered to. And even if some food scientist did do it, it doesn't seem to have caught on, especially outside of professional circles.

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    Plus 1. Likely the variety of mints is not so broad as in the case of hot peppers. Plus capsaicin might indeed drive consumers in a kind of "addiction", and have strong effect already with natural peppers. This motivated the special interest, but it is just an opinion. – Alchimista Dec 12 '19 at 10:51
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    I think a big reason for the popularity of the Scoville scale is the bragging rights associated with tolerating high values as a personal achievement. Menthol doesn't inspire the same excitement because even the highest possible concentration doesn't have as dramatic an effect as capsaicin does. – barbecue Dec 12 '19 at 17:08
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    There is something of a "cult around menthol", mainly due to its inclusion in many cigarettes rather than food. Not being a smoker, I'm not sure if people categorize the "mentholicity" of any given brand over another, but there's at least something there. – Darrel Hoffman Dec 12 '19 at 18:35
  • @barbecue True, but licking a menthol crystal is still quite strong. – Volker Siegel Dec 13 '19 at 12:41

Scoville's original method for determinig the Scoville level of a pepper was to dry the pepper, extract the heat components, and continunally dilute the extract until the majority of a panel of tasters could no longer detect it. It's not a great test, but could easily be adapted to any sort of sensation.

In the case of menthol, the majority of menthol in any detectable concentration that we encounter is added artificially so the exact menthol content is known.

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