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This Tricky Berry Turns Sour Into Sweet

Kids—and adults—will love this mind-blowing experiment.


Ever see a baby taste a lemon for the first time? Seeing his face contort with confusion, then those little lips pucker, is one of the most delightful—and hilarious—expressions on the planet. By the time they get older, of course, kids learn how delicious sour foods can be when mixed with a bit of sugar. Lemonade? Key lime pie? Yes, please.

But you can scramble their brains by turning sour foods sweet without any sugar at all. How? The so-called “miracle berry.” The fruit of the Synsepalum dulcificum, these tiny berries actually bind to the tongue’s taste buds and make even the sourest foods shockingly sweet.

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The berries are native to West Africa, but these days you can find them in concentrated form in stores and online.

“This is crazy,” my son declared, beaming.

I tried this trick with my kids, using a box of berries we got as a Christmas gift. We all dutifully chewed up the tablets, which coated my mouth almost immediately. (The sensation was a little like drinking a beverage that’s been loaded with artificial sweetener.) The kids were jumping up and down, excited to sample a fresh lemon slice for themselves.

“Will it really be sweet, mama?” my 7-year-old asked, pulling at my sleeve. I handed them each a lemon slice and watched. They were timid at first—gently licking the juice, then biting with gusto as they realized that there was no tart, tangy bite at all. “This is crazy,” my son declared, beaming.

The effects of the berries only last for about 30 minutes, which is just long enough to try a variety of sour things. Watching your kids laugh, marvel, and experiment will create memories that last far longer.

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