Column: Flavor-changing tablets disappoint

Megan Ivey, Staff Reporter

When I was in middle school, my best friend created a monthly dare.

She would go to the condiment table in the lunchroom, pick up a napkin full of jalapenos, the spiciest food we could get at school, and place them before us.

“Eat it,” she said to me.

The tale-tell sign of childhood – someone daring you to try something you know will end badly, but doing it anyway.

Jalapenos are not the hottest food around, but I hate anything spicy. My tongue was, and still is, not equipped to handle any kind of flavor explosion. Even so, after five minutes of coercion, I would closely examine the jalapeno, bringing it to my nose, finally place it into my mouth and instantaneously spit it out, scrunching my face in disgust. My friend would laugh, getting the reaction she was waiting for, and I vowed to never try one again, until of course when I was tricked into it again the next month.

I’m not nearly as picky of an eater now, but I still won’t touch jalapenos. It’s one of those memories that sticks.

That is until I saw a recent video on YouTube.

People have been trying a product called mberry. Mberry is a tablet made from fruits called miracle berries, which have been used in West Africa since the 18th century. The fruit changes the flavor profiles of other foods after it. People try the tablet, let it dissolve and then eat super spicy or bitter foods with ease.

The product claims to make certain foods sweet, like candy and is marketed as a supplement for healthier eating.

For $10, I decided to try it out myself.

The tablets are small, red dots wrapped in a tin foil package. It dissolved within two minutes and tasted almost like an artificial sweetener.

Mberry recommended trying the following foods: grapefruit, cheese, dark chocolate and hot peppers. I gathered all of the items and had the most random lunch ever.

I tried a grapefruit first. Hesitant and prepared for the sour taste, I scooped a spoonful of fruit into my mouth.

The grapefruit was sweet. So sweet, I went back and tried it two, three, four times. It was kind of surreal; I tricked my brain and tastebuds.

The next rounds were lackluster.

The cheese tasted like cream cheese, which was somewhat interesting but still similar to its original flavor.

The dark chocolate, made of 90 percent cocoa, was as bitter as normal.

Each food resulted in a different outcome, and they were getting worse over time.

It was time to try jalapenos. I saved it for last because I was dreading it the most. And, after the chocolate incident, I went for a second mberry tablet to make sure nothing had worn off.

I bit straight into the pepper, preparing for the worst.

The pepper tasted like nothing. It was not hot, but it was void of any flavor. I was disappointed. If I wanted a bland pepper, I could just eat a bland green pepper.

I was at first proud for trying something new but then realized the new taste was a cop out.

The mberry tablets served as a line of defense against undesirable tastes. It made trying new foods less scary, but then it also masked the foods’ true flavors.

Trying new things is great, but don’t change something to make it more comfortable and still call it adventurous. Next time, I’ll save the $10 and try new foods in their natural state.
Megan Ivey is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 217-581-2812 or at [email protected].