Here is a short list of things I would rather have on my tongue than stevia: ferret fur, bath gel, damp aquarium rocks, and Sean Spicer’s pre-noon gum wad. Speaking of the Orbit-chomping White House spox, while I subscribe to his point of view on exactly nothing else, the sole commonality we have is a longstanding, mostly one-sided Twitter vendetta against some manner of food. He freaked the eff out over "ice cream of the future" Dippin’ Dots. I have spent the bulk of this decade using my not entirely inconsiderable Twitter following to yammer to whomever would listen that stevia is Satan’s lymph in the guise of a “healthy” sweetener.

I’m not generally in the business of yucking anyone else’s yum. Stevia’s your bag? Have at it. I hear it’s a godsend for people who can’t or shouldn’t consume sugar for medical reasons. Stevia is made by extracting glycosides from the leaves of the stevia plant, then depending on the brand, either combining it with erythritol or dextrose to form a zero-calorie substance that’s said to be around 200 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia tastes like licking a recycling sack full of old aluminum cans. It tastes like swallowing an extinguished match. The flavor sneaks in and stays in my mouth in a way undefeatable by brushing, scraping, or swishing, until the only viable options seem to be chomping into a whole raw onion in a last ditch effort to override the ugh, or an impromptu self-administered tongue amputation. 

Am I being just the slightest bit dramatic? Yes, but it’s either this or watch the latest Sean Spicer press conference and wail into the void or Twitter (again), so I’m gonna double down on stevia for the moment.

Stevia seems like it’s sneaking in everywhere, too. I’ve mostly learned my lesson about picking up new canned drinks before thoroughly scanning the label for the presence of processed stevia, but it’ll creep up from time to time. It’s an initial shock of sweet before a bitter, metallic bear trap snaps down on my senses, clamped in place and unmovable for hours. 

It’s not just my imagination, either. The chemical compounds in stevia interact with the tongue’s bitter receptors along with the sweet, which is why most manufacturers balance it out with other components like acesulfame K, erythritol, and the like. Seeing as stevia’s whole schtick is that it’s supposed to be “natural,” this seems like a weird fib on top of a situation that’s already leaving a pretty wretched taste in my mouth. I’ve got enough of that in my life at the moment. Gonna go ahead and keep skipping the stevia.