Starburst Minis: Tiny But with Tantalizing Possibilities

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Outside the month of October, non-chocolate candy is usually not on my radar. Not that I have anything against Swedish fish or Gobstoppers or Skittles; I'm just more likely to go for a candy bar or a baked good if I want a quick, cheap fix for my sweet tooth. Thus, when I heard in passing that Starburst had launched a miniature version, I didn't blink twice. But then, while visiting my sister in Chicago, I was reacquainted with Starbursts (full-size variety) when I spontaneously cleaned and organized her entire apartment in a fit of obsessive-compulsive restlessness (don't ask). Margaret really likes Starbursts, and occasionally while cataloging the contents of her closet, I would run into a wrapper. And the amazing thing was that the wrapper refuse still emitted a strong, enticing fruit scent. Enticing enough, actually, to make me want to eat some Starbursts, which I did, much to my enjoyment, the last day of my visit.

Back in Houston, I was again alerted to the debut of Starburst minis, but this time, I was curious enough to try them. Despite the fact that I am an advocate for big portions, large-and-in-charge sundaes and high-volume beverages, I actually harbor a strange material fetish for miniatures and tiny objects. (No, I am not a 31-year-old woman who owns a dollhouse -- trying to keep my own creepiness under control, thank you.) Teeny Starbursts, could be fun, I thought.

And they are. Unlike regular-size Starbursts, segregated by their individual wrappers in line formation, minis are left unwrapped to mingle naked among themselves. I was concerned that the absence of wrappers plus the Texas heat would mean unavoidable, unsavory couplings between candies, but I was happy to find the minis led separate, individual existences inside the bag (though who knows how the community might change under long-term sun exposure.) I also worried that their diminished size would make it easier for them to get stuck in my teeth or, worse, dislodge a filling. That didn't happen either.

What did come to pass, actually multiples times, was unexpected fruit flavor combinations because I ate the minis by the sprinkleful rather than one by one as I would full-size Starbursts. Sometimes that was weird, once in a while it was bad and most of the time it was kinda fun. The individual minis, BTW, have as robust fruit flavors as their larger counterparts, but the former, oddly enough, look more like Chiclets.

My Starburst minis experience hasn't converted me into a (non-chocolate) candy addict, but has reminded me that I do really like Starbursts, and (if push comes to shove) I prefer the full-size. But what is terrifically appealing to me about the minis is their versatility. One can certainly eat them (one at a time or in groups) straight from the bag, but more fun, I think, would be to sprinkle them on cupcakes for a colorful, orange-cherry-lemon garnish or to incorporate them into baking, alongside or instead of chocolate chips. Wacky, perhaps, but something to change it up and make your kid's birthday snack different from everyone else's in the class. No progeny at home yet (or ever)? I can sympathize, which is why I plan to use my remaining minis to infuse some vodka. In micro-batches, of course.

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