It all started late one Thursday night. The evening hours were melting away, as they do when you’re playing the “if I don’t go to bed, I don’t have to face getting up for work” game, and as the clock ticked over to midnight, a message appeared in my Twitter feed from “deal-a-day” website Zazz:
Amaze your taste buds with the Miracle Fruit tablets – makes sour things taste sweet! http://Zazz.com.au: $9.95 plus ship.
Yes yes yes yes yes! Sold! This wasn’t the usual solar-powered-USB-novelty-keyring the site usually offers: it was the fabled Miracle Fruit — or the tablet form thereof: the widely-hyped West African berry that reportedly plays havoc with your tastebuds, taking your mouth on a magical mystery tour. “Flavour tripping” parties are all the rage Stateside, and $9.95 (plus postage and handling)* later, Crikey was all set to have our very own.
We came well-prepared for the road-test: a buffet of fruits, cheese, sweets, drinks, vegetables, condiments and mysterious food-like substances unearthed from the darkest depths of the Crikey kitchen pantry was laid out in preparation, while I diligently doled out the little purple tablets — some to rather reluctant and sceptical participants — in a scene somewhat reminiscent of Jonestown (in retrospect, a guest appearance from the Crikey Snuggie would have been highly appropriate).
Everybody whinged and moaned as if I’d just forced RatSak down their throats. Admittedly, “miracle” and “berry” isn’t exactly how I’d describe the flavour, but science isn’t supposed to be fun.
We sucked on the tablets and waited for the “magic” to begin, and… nothing; they simply dissolved and it was all very normal, barring a slightly gross after-taste.
“Is something supposed to happen?”
“Has it worked yet?”
Whinge, whinge, whinge.
I admit even I was growing sceptical. We crowded around the buffet table, tentatively took a piece of lemon each and bit in…
Oh. My. God. There were squeals of delight. It was the sweetest, juiciest piece of fruit we’d ever tasted — not a hint of sourness or bitterness.
The former pack of cynical journalists suddenly descended into a bunch of giggling, hyperactive school children, as we frantically clawed for new pieces of food to sample.
Cheap, pale supermarket tomatoes became succulent fruits! Blackberries and kiwifruit became candy! Nasty home-brand peanut butter became a smooth, rich cream!
White vinegar became a delicious sweet nectar!
Our bottle of emergency Teachers’ whiskey became Johnny Walker Blue Label (hey, it was all in the name of science)!
The snozzberries tasted like snozzberries!
Heads were spinning, minds were blown.
Not everything changed its flavour for the better — or at all. Bananas, chocolate and mint stayed the same. Coffee lost its flavour. Onion lost its bite. Pickles returned back to their previous lives as cucumbers.
After the high of messing with our mouths had worn off, the reality of combining vinegar, peanut butter, raw onion, sushi ginger and cheese in our stomachs dawned.
We slunk back to our desks, clutching our stomachs as our miracle hangovers kicked in.
* Do you think claiming “miracle fruit” on my tax return would fly with the ATO?