Want to really knock the socks off of your youth with a fun and very different object lesson? Then try out miracle berries.
Miracle berries (or miracle fruit) are a small berry from Africa which contains a protein that temporarily blocks the sour receptors on a person’s tongue. Suddenly, lemons taste like lemonade, grapefruit tastes like candy, and vinegar like soda pop. (Check out some recent NYT and WSJ articles for more description.)
The activity is really fun. The youth watched curiously as the first volunteer tried the miracle berry tablet — and then he ate a whole lemon on the spot. Pretty soon the kids were all lined up, and the large platter of sliced lemons disappeared, as did vinegar, pickles, grapefruit.
Meanwhile the object lesson practically writes itself, and our bishop had a field day with it at the joint fireside on Sunday, repeatedly drawing parallels to the fireside theme that “some temptations make bad things seem good.” There are obvious word of wisdom parallels as well (that some substances can make people likely to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do).
Miracle berries aren’t cheap, but they aren’t super expensive either. On the east coast, berries are available (as discussed in the NYT and WSJ articles) at $1 or $2 per berry. Out west, there isn’t a good source of fresh berries (they are very perishable) so we’ve used preserved-berry tablets that we ordered online. There are a dozen other online stores selling the tablets, they range from about $8 to $15 per box of 10 tablets (20 doses). We’ve ordered from ThinkGeek and from a store called MiracleFruitPlus. By shopping around we’ve been able to buy at under $10 a box.
The experience really is fun, and it illustrates strikingly how fragile and changeable our sense of taste is. It’s a great youth activity, but also makes for a fun date or family activity. Just make sure to bring some Tums for all the lemons you eat, or you may get an upset stomach afterwards from too much acid. The berries don’t neutralize the sour, they just prevent your tongue from tasting it.