The Miracle Berry: Too Good To Be True?

The fruit is commonly referred to as the "Miracle Berry" and a miracle it just might be. Originally discovered ages ago in West Africa this berry was immediately used by locals to help make certain meals and veggies more palatable. Imagine being able to eat all of those things that are good for you but taste terrible, like brussel sprouts or bitter grapefruit, and having them be absolutely delicious. All you have to do is pop one of these berries into your mouth and everything you eat will suddenly taste sweet thanks to a chemical compound in the fruit that bonds to your taste buds, altering flavors for approximately an hour. That means lemons will taste like candy, goat cheese like a slice of cheesecake, and a shot of hot sauce might be your new favorite treat. So why haven’t you seen lines of people at your local supermarket waiting to get their hands on this milagro?

Although the berry was discovered a long time ago, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that entrepreneur Robert Harvey attempted to harness its power in the U.S. Backed by powerful financial powerhouses like Reynolds Metals, Barclays and Prudential, his Miralin company could have forever changed the face of the American diet. And in the proces possibly making us a healthier nation and giving diabetics a safer alternative to sugar substitutes. However, the FDA ended up banning the product with no clear explanation as to why. Harvey told the BBC News, “I honestly believe that we were done in by some industrial interest that did not want to see us survive because we were a threat.” In fact, Linda Bartoshuk of the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste has studied the fruit extensively and found no danger in its consumption.

Today, the Miracle Berry has garnered a sort of cult-status. The berries are available online by distributors who normally charge around $2 a berry and “flavor tripping” has become an alternative party scene. In New York, a lawyer who goes by the name Supreme Commander throws such parties on a rooftop, posting party details on his blog. A $15 entrance gets you a berry and access to a table full of food like vinegar, mustard, cheeses, and cheap tequila, waiting to be transformed on your taste buds. People can be seen drizzling hot sauce on their tongues and creating strange concoctions like beer with lemon juice, reveling in the delicious flavors produced. An art magazine editor who features the berry at parties told the New York Times, it “had people testifying like some baptismal thing.”

It seems the little berry is a difficult to decipher…is it an all-natural pseudo-drug, a healthy sugar substitute that could have been, or simply a miracle of nature that we don’t fully understand just yet? Why did the FDA ban it's use as a sugar subsitute? Would you try the Miracle Berry?