Starburst has many different varieties such as Tropical, Sour, FaveReds, Very Berry, Superfruit Flavor and Original.
The brand was introduced by Mars in the UK in 1960, named by Peter Phillips (known as Peter Pfeffer at the time) a competition that won him £5, as Opal Fruits. The four original flavors were strawberry, lemon, orange, and lime. Opal Fruits were introduced in the United States in 1967 as Starburst. Originally, Starburst came in the same flavours as Opal Fruits. Subsequently, its first variant, Sunshine Flavors, was released and was later renamed "Tropical Opal Fruits". In Europe, lemon and lime were combined to become "Lemon and Lime" to make room for a Blackcurrant flavour.
The brand name Opal Fruits was phased out in the UK, followed by Ireland in 1998 in order to standardize the product in a globalised marketplace. In 2008, the supermarket chain Asda revived the original Opal Fruits in the UK for a period of 12 weeks starting May 10, 2008. On October 6, 2008, Mars acquired Wrigley, and it transferred Mars' non-chocolate candy brands, including Starburst, to the Wrigley subsidiary. The original flavours are now branded "Original Fruits", and Starburst now comes in several assortments: Limited Edition Retro Fruits, Tropical, Baja California, Sour, Strawberry Mix, Berries & Creme, Very Berry and Fruity Slushies. Among the additional flavors are Strawberry Lemonade Chill, Citrus Slush, Cherry Splash, Blue Raspberry Rush Kiwi, Banana, Plum, Blueberry, Passion Fruit, Blackberry, Raspberry, Strawberry-Banana, Mango, Melon, Tropical Punch, Green Apple, Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, Mixed Berries & Cream, Peaches & Cream, Orange Cream, and Strawberry & Cream. Europe also has the "Sour" assortment, which includes Apple, Cherry, Pineapple and Raspberry, as well as Strawberry Mix. As of early 2010 it was decided that Strawberry was the most popular flavor in the United Kingdom. Lime is also very popular within this demand.
Starburst in the UK is vegan, its packaging and website clearly stating "Suitable for Vegetarians", and also does not contain any artificial colors or flavors. In the US, Starburst contains non-vegetarian gelatin in its ingredients.
Lime Starburst made a comeback in 2007 as a limited-edition 'retro' flavour in packages of the 'Baja' version, while the range in the UK was further extended with a version named Starburst Choozers. These lozenge shaped chews have a liquid fruit juice centre, and come packaged with the tag line "The chews that ooze." Each packet contains three flavours; Orange & Mango, Raspberry & Orange, and Pineapple & Orange.
As of August 2016, the advertising slogan for Starburst is "Unexplainably Juicy".
In the 1970s Opal Fruits were well known in the UK for their advertising tag line "Opal Fruits — made to make your mouth water!" (slogan coined by Murray Walker). The full advertising jingle was "Opal Fruits — made to make your mouth water / Fresh with the tang of citrus / 4 refreshing fruit flavours / orange, lemon, strawberry, lime / Opal Fruits — made to make your mouth water!"
Starburst has been marketed in several ways, including a marketing tie-in for the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest where they replaced Kiwi Banana and Tropical Punch with Royal Berry Punch.
In 2007 a commercial for Starburst's Berries and Creme flavor went viral. The commercial, referred to as "Berries and Creme" or as "The Little Lad Dance", stars Jack Ferver as a man dressed in Victorian/Georgian clothing expressing his excitement for the candy's flavor by performing an impromptu song and dance routine. The commercial received praise for its style from Advertising Age. In an interview with Adweek Ferver commented that the commercial took over twelve hours to film and that he had to wear the full costume in 80 degree weather.
Starburst also exists in the form of jellybeans, lollipops, gummies, hard candy, candy canes, candy corn, popsicles, gum, and lip gloss (the latter in a partnership with Lip Smackers). In the USA, Starbursts are made with gelatin.
Starburst flavors (past and present)
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- "Starburst". Wrigley.com. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
- "Global branding chews up Opal Fruits". BBC News. 27 April 1998. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
- Mercer, Charles (2008-05-01). "Opal Fruits return to British playgrounds". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
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- Owen, Oliver (1 July 2007). "Mint condition". The Guardian.
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- "Little Lad Produces Big Laughs in Genius Masterfoods Spot". AdAge.com. Advertising Age. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- "Brief interviews with commercial actors: Jack Ferver on being Starburst's Little Lad". Adweek. Retrieved 10 January 2014.