Monday, May 22, 2006

On Empire and its Candy

Eating Starbursts in Europe is a lot like watching The Three Amigos or Spaceballs again once you are a grown-up. The feeling is a pale imitation of that visceral burst of pleasure that sprang forth upon contact with the original. One’s tongue is left with nothing but a faint, lingering sweetness tarred over by a sticky film of regret.

Although there are “fun packs” of “wacky colors” and “sour shapes,” the standard English Starburst pack consists of four flavors (or rather, flavours): strawberry, orange, lime, and black currant. That’s right: black currant—the most non-fruity fruit to have ever crossed the lips of my foraging Welsh ancestors. They are a pucker-your-lips sour, sugar-less fruit, whose taste reminds one of the dour English character, and whose aesthetic is reminiscent of rabbit poop.

With a single dive-bomb of its pellets, black currant replaced the US version’s lemon and pink grapefruit flavors, leaving the UK version with only four, and not five taste sensations. What one is left with is something that, while not entirely disagreeable, instead makes you remember the good ol’ days back when you lived in The Empire: the sun set in the west, people drove on the right side of the road, and bags of Starbursts were measured by pound, not by stone.

As such, it was somehow appropriate that my discovery of European Starbursts should coincide with the evening of Eurovision 2006, which by now all of you surely know was won by a bunch of Finnish cannibals. But before the Finns ate the judges, and before the stage was crossed many times over by Eastern European women in sequins and dancing men dressed as birds, there was a question that hit me many times over, and which is a favorite topic of The Economist: Europe—why bother?

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Anonymous said...

hey moko, europe is great. did you see moldova's performance?

don't forget that you came from here. be proud of your people!!!

Moko said...

oh, i don't really have a problem with europe. i like europe. there's lots of moss and old things. and men wear their pants better here (most of the time).

i just think they have a lot to learn about candy.

Anonymous said...

Black currant Starbursts=rabbit poop..hard to get past that image!

SaraQ said...

Same with their Skittles. I was in dismay after purchasing some "comfort food" for a movie while living in Glasgow- only to find black currant had replaced grape in the flavor rainbow.

By the way, I just tripped across your blog- from one candy fiend to another, keep up the good work!