A history of sweeteners--natural and synthetic.J Toxicol Environ Health. 1976 Sep; 2(1):207-14.JT
Sweetness for the prehistoric man was the taste sensation obtained from sweet berries and honey. Man's quest for other sweet things led to sucose, starch-derived sugars, and synthetic sweeteners. An unusual source of sweet taste is a West African berry known as miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum). This fruit possesses a taste-modifying substance that causes sour foods--e.g., lemons, limes, or grapefruit--to taste sweet. The active principle was found to be a glycoprotein. Until this time, only small molecules were considered sweet-evoking substances, but now macromolecules are considered capable of participating in taste perception. The intense sweetener of the fruit of Dioscoreophyllum cumminsii, called the serendipity berry, was revealed to be a protein. The intensely sweet principle of Thaumatococcus daniellii, called katemfe, was reported in 1972 to contain two proteins having intense sweetness. Since intensely sweet protein sweeteners act directly on taste buds as a probe, a peptide linkage analogous to the aspartic acid sweeteners may be partly responsible for their sweetness.