Robert Harvey and Don Emery formed the Miralin Company in the 1970s, with the aim of using miraculin to make products for diabetics.
The businessmen experiment with miraculin chewing gum, flavored drinking straws and miraculin tablets.
Harvey was under the impression that the Food and Drug Administration would classify the berry as "generally recognized and safe."
However, despite the company's success, its backers wanted the businessmen to branch out beyond the diabetic market. In 1974, the company developed miracle berry popsicles. They asked Boston schoolchildren to choose to between the miraculin version of the popsicle and the sugared version and the miraculin-flavored frozen treat won every time.
After those tests were conducted, Harvey noticed someone was following him. He also noticed that a car was driving by the Miralin offices, slowing down to take pictures. Harvey also says he was followed home after work one night.
Later that same year, the Miralin offices were broken into and ransacked, with information for the FDA scattered about the office, Harvey says. The day before a major project launch was scheduled, the FDA sent a letter indicating the berry should be classified as a food additive. That status would require years of testing, which Miralin could not afford, so the company folded.
Harvey and Emery do not know why the FDA changed its mind. Emery suspects a competing industry put pressure on the FDA. The Sugar Association has denied any involvement and the Caloric Control Council, an association of manufacturers of artificial sweeteners would not respond to questions.
The ruling by the FDA means that the fruit can be grown but cannot be used in food. Thus, it has become an underground cult favorite.