A Cringeworthy Marketing Ploy: MiraBurst

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Today’s teens have it tough. There, I said it. Lots of times, kids hear “Well, when I was your age,” or “You think it’s bad these days.” As parents, we often lament that today’s kids are either lazy, or misdirected, or they are getting into all sorts of shenanigans that we could not have even dreamed of. And we are kind of right. Let’s look at some statistics, shall we?

  1. Drugabuse.gov says that almost 5% of 12th graders have used Ecstasy, also referred to as MDMA or Molly.

  2. According to dosomething.org, 50% of high school seniors do not think it’s harmful to try crack or cocaine once or twice, and 40% believe it’s not harmful to use heroin once or twice.

  3. Per drugabuse.gov, more than 1600 people age 15-24 died from heroin use in 2015.

  4. I’m running out of synonyms, but teenrehabcenter.org shows that teen alcohol abuse is responsible for 200,000 ER visits, and 4,300 deaths every year

  5. Per the JAMA Network, out of over 10,000 respondents, 59.8% reported alcohol use, 60.2% had reported an opportunity to use illicit drugs, and 42.5% of older teens had used illicit drugs.

  6. Per the above linked JAMA study, the median age of the first opportunity of illicit drug use was 13 years old, 14 was the median age of the first use of illicit drugs, and by 15, kids were reporting dependence on drugs.

Clearly, there is an issue here, right? We send our kids to schools where we hope they are supervised. We do our best to know who their friends are, and what kind of people are influencing our teens. Yet, despite all of our best efforts as parents, we STILL see statistics like the above. It’s enough to start homeschooling and never let the kids leave the house. And we would absolutely, never, under any circumstances, in the history of the world, give our kids something that would undermine our efforts and make our kids even more likely to try drugs in the first place, right?

Well…….maybe. It depends. It depends on what you think would make your teen more susceptible to drug use. If you think that something that simulates the effects of drug use is okay for your teens to use, then do I have a product for you.

MiraBurst is a brightly packaged “natural dietary supplement.” Developed by a plastic surgeon who studied at the Vinnitsa Medical Institute in Ukraine, Miraburst is based on a fruit native to West Africa that has been used to sweeten foods. Purported to work by using Miraculin, which is contained in the fruit, to “supercharge” the tastebuds and have the user perceive sour foods as sweet, and claiming that the effects last up to 90 minutes, this product is claimed to assist cancer patients who develop a metallic taste due to chemotherapy treatments.

None of this (so far) is an issue. We’ve all heard advertising buzzwords like “superfoods” and “supercharge your tastebuds. The issue is with the clear advertising attack on our children. I am generally not one to overreact, but in this case, I think that MiraBurst has crossed a line. In their email solicitation, we got to read how MiraBurst was a safe, natural, and thrilling alternative to MDMA. Teens can “pop a Miraburst tablet” and “revel as they enter an alternate reality…”. The email also went on to say “…can be used for health purposes, but many young people are using it recreationally, to taste trip.” We were treated to this picture, which is clearly a bunch of teens eating a safe, natural supplement.

My final issue with this product is the way in which it is marketed. On their “business opportunities” tab, you have the choice of becoming an affiliate, broker, or investor, but the real treat is to become a Taste-Tripping Party Organizer. To be clear, you sign up with MiraBurst, and they send you all the supplies needed to have a party. This includes wall banners, posters, brochures, and plenty of MiraBurst Easy Melt Tablets. Then all you have to do is invite all of your friends over, convince them to eat these tablets, and then collect their $30.

In this day and age, I think the LAST thing teens need is to be subjected to an environment where they are encouraged to take tablets that ”this guy I know said was safe,” or to be encouraged to “trip” or “enter an alternate reality.”

In conclusion, while I am not saying that MiraBurst is a gateway drug, or that by taking MiraBurst you or your teens are going to end up MDMA addicts, I do think it sets a dangerous precedent to not only encourage but to provide this type of product, with this type of environment, with this kind of behavior being encouraged. Our kids need real information regarding drugs and the dangers they contain, not some company that tries to tap into drug culture to sell our kids tablets. Our kids are at risk enough, without promoting this kind of behavior, and I encourage you to not only not buy this product, but to actively question a company that thinks this kind of advertising is okay.

Grade: F. As in, WTF.