The berries of the miracle fruit tree, or Synsepalum dulcificum, contain a glycoprotein called miraculin that effectively causes the palate to taste acidic, sour and bitter flavors as sweet for a temporary period of time. Because miraculin specifically transforms acid flavors, the taste of many foods has no change at all, including already sweet foods like candy.
To try out the effect, Gambit staffers participated in a miracle fruit tasting party, using the Miracle Frooties-brand pills and sampling a wide range of common foods and specific New Orleans-area groceries. Writer Ian McNulty held a follow-up tasting at home several days later. The results are presented here in tasting note form.
Caveat: miraculin has no effect on any property of foods other than the taste of acids. That means that while the effect may allow someone to guzzle lemon juice like so much lemonade, the large amount of acid can cause mouth ulcers or acid reflux — something our tasters learned the hard way.
Lemon – this is the showstopper, the fruit least appealing to bite directly. Add miraculin, though, and it tastes like a candied version of itself, like a lemon dredged in sugar for a lemon drop shot at the bar or a Lemonhead candy.
Lime – similar to lemon, lime becomes sticky-sweet, like a Jolly Rancher.
Lemon slice in glass of water – a mellow, refreshing lemonade.
A squeeze of lemon in a cup of black coffee – sweetened coffee
Raw rhubarb – crisp and sweet, a combination of apple and pear flavors
Abita Turbo Dog dark brown ale – flat cola with a little chocolate flavor
Guinness stout – a chocolate-flavored drink
Crystal hot sauce – still very spicy, like sweet banana peppers. Actually seemed to make it hotter (though it could have been the straight, enthusiastic dose taken)
Dill pickle – like honeyed or candied pickle
Tonic water – lemon-lime soda, or Zima, the regrettable malt beverage product of the 1990s
Honey – raisin syrup
Grapefruit – mandarin orange
Raw tomato – pulp and juice become very sweet
V8 juice – thin ketchup
Creole mustard – honey mustard
Balsamic vinegar – tart port wine
Sauvignon blanc – syrupy dessert wine
Pinot gris – intensely sticky and pruned, like dessert wine mixed with Robitussin
These items had no change in flavor:
Snickers candy bar
Hershey's dark chocolate candy bar
Blue Plate mayonnaise
Zapp's Spicy Cajun Craw-Tators