Miracle Fruit makes everything tastes sweet
We've been bombarded with plenty of fruits with supposedly magical properties. Fast Company highlighted the wave of Superfruits marketed to consumers who believe in those sort of things. The açaí, the guarana, the goji -- they all have some anti-oxidant, caffeine-like or talismanic properties.
So I skeptically approached a New York Times story on the new miracle fruit. But it turns out that Miracle Fruit is something I can get behind: it isn't supposed to ward off cancer or sleep. It just makes everything taste sweet for an hour or two. (It also turns out the Journal also ran a Miracle Fruit story on it the same day.)
These West African red berries seem to have no common name. It's either the giddy "Miracle Fruit" or the scientific Synsepalum dulcificum. Even the scientists naming the active protein that makes sour things taste sweet got carried away and called it miraculin. The stories both tell of Miracle Fruit parties where people first roll a grape-sized Miracle Fruit around their tongue, then devour and guzzle any nasty tasting thing in sight because it tastes so sweet.
The Journal story goes on to chronicle what seems like the curse of the Miracle Fruit. We've known about it since 1725 but no one has been able to sell it to the masses -- despite great ideas for sugar substitutes, desert enhancers and aids to diabetics and chemotherapy patients.
After reading the story my main question was: How do I get me some?
I could easily imagine lots of great uses. Forcing myself to eat vegetables. Inducing some kid to eat vegetables. Taking one before a dreaded meal. Handing them out at a dinner party. Is there a way to get someone to get the effect of rolling it on their tongue without telling them what's gong on?
They're a bit expensive -- about $1.80 to $2.50 each, according to the stories. The demand created by these stories is sure to send the price up. The biggest obstacle seems to be that as miraculous as the fruit is, it still rots -- pretty quickly. So you have to either get it overnighted or attend some local party of foodies.
Chowhounders have discussed sourcing in several cities. The British and Japanese are selling pills of miraculin. Some grow their own. There are a few Miracle Fruit party entrepreneurs who also sell the stuff on the side. The Times conveniently points out that the main merchant is Miracle Fruit Man. He sells a minimum of 30 Miracle Fruits for $2 each, but there's a $30 shipping fee. I'm hoping to find that some friends of mine are equally intrigued and want to try it.