Moon Melon Hoax ImageOutline
Message, which features an image depicting slices of bright blue melon that grows in Japan, claims that the fruit can switch flavours after you eat it so that everything sour will taste sweet and everything salty will taste bitter.
The message is a hoax. The picture shows ordinary slices of watermelon that have been tinted blue and the pictured fruit does not have the miraculous qualities described in the message. However, a protein called "miraculin" that is extracted from "Miracle Berries" can indeed make sour taste sweet.
Moonmelon (scientifically known as Asidus). This fruit grows in some parts of Japan, and is known for its vibrant blue color. This fruit's party trick is that it can switch flavors after you eat it. Everything sour will taste sweet, everything salty will taste bitter, and it gives water a strong orange-like taste!
A picture message currently circulating via Pintrest and other social media websites purportedly depicts slices of a melon with vivid blue flesh. The picture's caption explains that the "moon melon" grows in parts of Japan and has special properties. The message claims that, when eaten, the melon can switch the flavours of food from sour to sweet and from salty to bitter. And, the fruit supposedly gives water a strong orange-like taste.
Sadly, however, the pictured fruit is a whole lot more mundane than the image and caption would have us believe. In fact, as the following image reveals, the picture shows ordinary slices of watermelon that have simply been tinted blue via image manipulation software:
And, of course, being just ordinary watermelon after all, the fruit does not have the miraculous taste changing properties ascribed to it.
But, as is often the case, truth is much more interesting than silly hoaxes. A protein contained in a West African berry - known as the "miracle berry" – can actually make sour taste sweet. The protein can be extracted from the berries and is called "miraculin". A 2011 Scientific America article about the protein explains:
Miraculin was first extracted in 1968, from a berry that grows in West Africa. The local population knew about the effects of the berry for much longer. They chewed on the pulp of the fruit to make stale and sour maize bread more tasty, for example. At the time, scientists didn’t know exactly how miraculin worked, but they did have a hunch. “It is believed that the protein binds to receptors of the taste buds and modifies their function”, is what they wrote. Now, forty years after the initial isolation of miraculin, researchers from Japan and France have proved them right.
The research team discovered that miraculin binds to the human sweet taste receptor (hT1R2-hT1R3). Most molecules that bind the sweet taste receptor, such as sugar and aspartame, induce a sweet sensation, but this is not the case for miraculin. Miraculin only activates the sweet taste receptor in a sour environment. This explains why vinegar tastes as sweet as syrup once your entire tongue is covered with miraculin. In a neutral environment the sweet taste receptor doesn’t respond to miraculin at all.
And there are a range of real fruits that have unusual taste properties and vibrant colours. For example, the fruit Monstera Deliciosa (aka fruit salad plant) is said to taste like a range of other fruits all in one. And Dragon Fruit has an unusual shape, a vibrant pink skin and creamy flesh.Nature is compelling, exciting and wonderful all by itself and it certainly does not need Photoshop to enhance it.
Last updated: January 17, 2014
First published: January 17, 2014
By Brett M. Christensen
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