Is the "Moonmelon" Real?

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Moon Melon Photo

Moonmelon or blue watermelon
Netlore Archive: Viral image purportedly shows a "moonmelon" or "moon melon," a Japanese fruit similar to watermelon except that its flesh is bright blue and it can "switch flavors" after you eat it. Viral image

Description: Viral image / Hoax
Circulating since: May 2011
Status: Fake (details below)

Text example:
As shared on Facebook, Oct. 20, 2013:

Moonmelon (scientifically knows as asidus). This fruit grows in some parts of Japan and is known for its vibrant blue colour. This fruit's party trick is that it can switch flavours after you eat it. Everything sour will taste sweet, everything salty will taste bitter, and it gives water a strong orange-like taste! Bucket list fruit!

Analysis: This popular viral image has been circulating since mid-2011, when it first began showing up on Tumblr and Pinterest. Sorry to disappoint, but it's a hoax. There's no such thing as a moonmelon, or any other kind of melon that has blue flesh. "Asidus" isn't the scientific name of any real fruit or vegetable. The image is a color-manipulated version of a commonly available stock photo of an ordinary watermelon.

There is, as it happens, a fruit that, when swirled around in one's mouth for a minute or so, alters the flavor profiles of anything tasted afterwards. "Beer can taste like chocolate, lemons like candy," says a May 28, 2008 New York Times article about a West African berry known as "miracle fruit" (Synsepalum dulcificum). The reaction is caused by a protein in the berry dubbed, appropriately enough, Miraculin. The existence of the fruit was first noted in 1725 by French explorer Reynaud Des Marchais, and made known to the larger world in a research paper by botanist W.F. Daniell in the 1800s. Some researchers have advocated its use as a natural sweetener.

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Sources and further reading:

A History of Moonmelon, the Most Popular Fruit That Doesn't Exist
The Daily Dot, 14 January 2014

The 'Miracle' Berry that Could Replace Sugar, 29 May 2014

A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue
New York Times, 28 May 2008

Last updated 12/12/15