1. White Chocolate: The "chocolate" part trips people up. It's really just a sweet confection (no cocoa involved). Moving on from terminology, when good, it's creamy and vanilla-y, but like "normal" chocolate, when bad, it's just waxy calories.
2. Cilantro: Soapy, rotten, or just plain vile are popular complaints from cilantro haters. Did you know Julia Child hated the leafy herb? But behavioral neuroscientists would argue that America's food darling had no control. It's all about genetics. Studies have linked liking cilantro to being able to detect the "pleasing" chemicals in the leaf.
3. Eggplant: For some, it's an old purple sponge and others, the soft-firm texture is what makes a veggie sandwich or an Italian pasta dish. Raw is never good, but fried, grilled, or roasted (always doused with gobs of olive oil), eggplant deserves another chance. Or, the vegetarian sponge will always make you nauseous -- and the roof of your mouth mysteriously itch.
4. Coconut: The smell in shampoo and sunblock is one thing. But the sawdust-like shreds of real coconut can mean chewing and chewing forever until you eventually swallow the darn lump. Sprinkled on pies, cakes, and chicken, coconut either adds a mild tropical zing or a vile, never-ending chewing party. That's when it comes out that a lot of coconut haters don't even know about young fresh coconut which is as soft as a Hawaiian baby's bottom.
5. Tomato: This one really comes down to texture. Slimy and gritty is never good for the tomato world. The cooked, soft version brings in a few fans. Others are only in it for the vine-picked version during their peak season in August (cut to romantic images of Italian countrysides). Others can only bear them on pizza or completely masked inside ketchup.
6. Anchovies: Cat food or human food? A small whiff can make you seasick or have you loading them on pizza and Caesar salads. Whether fresh or in flat metal cans, the salty little fish has some so obsessed, they'll eat the bones.
7. Black licorice: Even the red licorice-tolerant may draw the line here. Black licorice gum, jelly beans, tea, Good n' Plentys, and Jägermeister—get it out. Along with any herb, like anise or fennel, that resembles the flavor. Out. Lovers say it's an acquired taste, but I think the little kids have it straight here. Not a real candy.
8. Stinky cheeses: If this smell came from something else (a shoe or dog), I might take issue, but knowing it's from a dairy gob, growing moldy in a controlled environment, I'm fine with the pungent aroma. When others sniff Gorgonzola or Roquefort, they're convinced that feet or laundry were actually involved.
9. Mayo: Whether Hellmann's or even Miracle Whip, does the creamy off-white slime strip the taste off food or magically make anything better? Haters have been told to try it homemade, but for many, this won't make a tuna or egg salad look any less scary.
10. Bell Pepper: To some, all those colorful strips are a mouthful of crisp freshness. To others, they're the backseat driver of vegetables. On a pizza or in pasta, they're supposed to be one of many veggie passengers, but no. The bell pepper's always got to be the loud guy telling your taste buds where to go -- and green, he's the loudest. Green is actually unripened, picked from the vine before its more sweet (and edible) brethren.
11. Beets: Despite all my white T-shirts you have stained purple, I still love you, beets. People fear you from an early age, but roasted or pickled, you take on a whole new form. The other camp thinks that the beet smell is such a toss-up between ick and gross and that the beet taste is so much like a metallic vitamin that it's just not meant to be.