I've been following with much interest the "Miracle Fruit," or Miracle Berry trend. A Miracle Berry is a smallish, red, West African berry that is turning tastebuds on their ear all over the world right now.
If you haven't heard of this berry, it's main claim to fame (or it's miracle, if you prefer) is when you chew on the fruit it makes everything you eat taste sweet. The berry contains an active glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue's taste buds, causing bitter and sour foods to taste sweet, and sweet foods to taste sweeter. While no one has proven how miraculin actually works on the palate, scientist think the berry might work by heightening the sweetness receptors on the tongue making them larger and more pronounced. The effect can lasts anywhere between thirty minutes to two hours.
Like all good stories, the story of the Miracle Berry and how it became the hottest tropical fruit in the US, has all of the right elements: sweet and sour, sugar and spice and sex, drugs and rock n' roll. (Trust me, I'll get to the good part of the story quickly.)
The story of the Miracle Berry goes like this: In the 1970's, several companies were looking at commercializing miraculin as a diet aid. The assumption being if you were taking doses of miraculin you would naturally eat more veggies and less candy, if your veggies tasted more like candy.
However, once the sugar industry got wind of this research they supposedly sabotaged the efforts to bring it to market by putting tremendous pressure on the FDA not to review it or approve it. The FDA looked at it but refused to review it further, thus miraculin was never given the opportunity to pass the FDA approval and was never developed or sold as a diet drug in the US. The FDA would never release the files on the case and refused to admit it had been pressured by the sugar industry.
Fast forward to 2005, a man in Florida named Curtis Mozie, who is called the Miracle Fruit Man, found this Miracle Berry tree sitting in the back of a small tropical nursery near his home in Florida. After inquiring about the plant, he was told of the unusual side effects of the berry that grew on them . . .they make sour foods taste sweet.
When Curtis tried the fruit for himself, he knew he was on to something and proceeded to plant hundreds of thousands of Mircale Berry trees for himself. He planned to harvest and sell the berries to anyone interested . . .restaurants, bars and even Foodies.
His big break came in May of 2008, when The New York Times ran an article called A Tiny Fruit that Tricks the Tongue.This story was the first to discuss the use of Miracle Berries as fun and novel Foodie entertainment, and thus a red hot trend was born from this red hot fruit.
So the Miracle Berry craze began in earnest over the summer in NYC with roof-top, flavor-tripping parties, as they are known. They have quickly become the new, all-natural, designer foodie drug of choice for hipsters across the country. Supposedly, when you are "on the berry" you change from a mild mannered gourmand into wild-eyed lemon sucking, brussel sprout chewing and hot sauce chugging maniac. Or, at least, that is the claim and hope of the promoters of these events.
As the demand for the Miracle Berries grew, Curtis had calls coming in from all over the world from people who would pay any price to get their hands on his new cash crop. The problem was the article in the New York Times, followed by this video below, created the eternal business dilemma of demand being greater than supply. Soon, Curtis was out of berries, and he was in the position of telling his customers they must wait for the next batch to harvest to continue his supply.
But the Miracle Berry Man's loss was the gain of other tropical nurseries and farmers across the country, as others raced to plant Miracle Berries to cash in on the feeding frenzy. As the berries became very, very scarce, you began to find websites selling Miracle Berry tablets or chewable pills from Asia that supposedly delivered the same effect. But somehow in my mind, if I wanted to flavor trip (AND I DO, I DO WANT TO FLAVOR TRIP . . .BADLY), I want to do it using the real berry and not some chemically enhanced pill. The acid trip analogies just keep coming with this phenomenon.
So, just for fun, check out this video of the very witty, British TV star, Graham Norton, on his show tempting our own beloved adopted foodie son, Gordon Ramsey to try Miracle Berries with him live on the air.
Most, of course, being almost as curious as I am, said, "Yes, sign me up, I would love to." But the other reactions I have heard run the gamut from somewhat serious to silliness. Here are a few of them with my guess as to the type of person who is asking them:
"Is it legal to eat them in the US?" (Afraid of the Food Police and most of what Emeril does.)
"Does it make you want to do anything else when you are on them?" (Closet Nudist wanting to come out.)
"What if your tastebuds never return to normal after to try them?" (Super Tasters needing job security.)
"Is it addictive?" (Addictive personality looking for their next high.)
"What are the odds it will work?" (Gamblers, who are looking for some action.)
"I'll do it, if you'll do it." (Double Dog Dare . . . in reverse? But, I'm already daring you to try it, Love. Oh, very well, you win. "I accept your dare, Sir, you are ON.")
With a few in my close circle willing to try it, the trick now has been finding some of those little buggers to buy. I had been hunting for months and months online for real Miracle Berries. Just as I was about to give up hope of finding them, and about to order the chewable tablets and pray they were close to the same thing as the real berries, I got a line on a guy who had the berries.
After emailing with Tom at MiracleFruitTab.com, who was very helpful and patient in answering all of my questions, I have now placed my order and am anxiously planning my Bacchanalian extravaganza when they arrive.
You can ORDER MIRACLE BERRIES HERE!
I can't wait to get some berries and start experimenting to develop my tasting menu for my Miracle Berry party. Visions of this INXS video for the song The One Thing dances in my mind. Sounds like my kind of party. How about you?