It’s true! In 1965, a chemist by the name of G.D. Searle was experimenting with drugs to treat gastric uclers. As the story goes, one of the intermediate compounds he created got on his hand…he accidentally licked his finger…and with that, the first FDA approved artificial sweetener was discovered.
I learned about this fact from: Whitehouse CR, Boullata J, McCauley LA. 2008. The Potential Toxicity of Artificial Sweeteners. AAOHN, 56(6)251-259.