Houston McLaury – Opinion Columnist
With another month coming to a close, students across campus will have emptied the Caf of any foods they can take back to their dorms. Cereals, Pop-Tarts, chips, sodas, coffee, tea, anything we can get our hands on that we can savor and bring back to our dorms. And one of the sweetest of these fine treats comes in the form of a yellow bag: the Starburst. These delectable, fruity chews were a staple in my early childhood, of summer days with the candy bowl on the counter, which I could never quite keep my hands away from. As I am getting older, having gotten slightly smarter than when I was eight years old, I trust myself now more than ever to judge these delectable fruity bites. Judging the original four, I will be going over the best qualities of these sweet treats, judging them on their taste, quantity in packaging, and if they hold up to the flavor they are trying to represent.
First, let’s go over the four flavors and what I like to call them. There is pink, orange, yellow, and red, or as the Starburst packaging begs for them to be called, strawberry, orange, lemon, and cherry. I, nor my family, have ever or will ever refer to these as the fruit flavors they are. Because this is the first point of misconception– nearly half of these flavors do not taste as the wrapping says. But, that is for the review of these individual flavors. For now, the packaging of these fruit chews is what interests me, as one eats with their eyes first, and their mouth second. The starburst is a square gummy, wrapped inside of wax paper with the correct color and flavor stamped to the front in white. The best way to open these wrappers is to go from the sides and unfold the wrapper to peel apart the paper to get to the candy inside. After this process, one can finally eat the candy they’ve paid for.
In this wrapping comes one major problem, and that is the fact that a person usually has to use both hands when opening the wrapper. For any other candy, say gummy bears or sour patch kids, one must simply open the bag and eat with one hand. This allows for other activities with the other hand, either using the phone, writing, or a multitude of other activities one can do with one free hand. Yet, with the Starbursts sold in the Caf, one must open the bag, take the candy out, unwrap the candy, and then they can eat it. This limits the time to when a person can have these candies to when they are watching youtube, a TV show, a movie, or listening to music and doing nothing else.
Having gone over the use and futility of the wrapping of the Starburst, a review of the flavors must be had. First is the pink-colored strawberry, one that holds great sentimental value for me as it was always so rare to find these in the Starbursts bought from the stores. Usually, there were only one or two pink ones that came in these packages of about twelve pieces. Now, to review the flavor. As I bite into the soft, gummy fruit chew, the sweet flavors burst forth and fill my memories with thoughts of summer by the fire, or movies in my living room. The flavor is excellent, capturing summer, however, it does a poor job of capturing the flavor of a strawberry. There are hints of it, sure, but it lacks the tang a real strawberry has. And yet, even though it doesn’t have the exact strawberry flavor, it’s still quite good. Which is why the pink Starburst is my favorite.
Coming in second is the orange Starburst, a refreshing citrusy blast to the senses as I chew on the gummy. This Starburst has a leg up where the pink one didn’t, as it wholly recreates the taste of an orange quite accurately. And lucky for this candy, I adore oranges for their flavor, which earns it the number two spot on this list. Then comes the yellow Starburst, one of the more abundant of the Starbursts that litter the packaging. It’s a fine flavor, of course, but it makes the lemon too sweet in my mind, nulling the acidic and wonderful burn of the sour taste that so many people align with the lemon. For this inaccuracy, it has to be at the number three spot.
Then, there is the worst flavor. Red, otherwise known as the cherry Starburst. This thing, this vile testament to all things good, fill and overflow nearly every Starburst bag, too many planted into the bags for my liking. There is an overuse of the red Starburst, and I could forgive that if the flavor was decent, or even halfway good. But no, as I chew on the revolting piece of candy, I am reminded of elementary school days, handing out these cherry Starbursts to any that would dare take it, for this accursed candy is not meant for mortal consumption. No, it is not fit for any sane individual to consume, which is why I must rank it dead last among the four.
For the best-tasting Starbursts, do your best to get your hands on the pinks and oranges. If you can’t, the yellow substitution is not all that bad. But for your sake dear reader, stay away from the red menace of the dreaded cherry flavor. Not for the faint of heart, this sweet will leave you revolted in the face of all things good. May the next time you open a Starburst container, and grab one of the candies, you find the Starburst that suits you the best.