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MFT Professor Helped Create “Starburst” Candy!

MFT Professor Helped Create “Starburst” Candy!

UGA Online faculty member, Aaron Brody, Ph. D., was on the product development team for M&M’s Candies (now part of Mars), while many of the candies we know and love today were being developed. Dr. Brody shared the story of his role in the development of “Starburst”.

The team had to introduce a new candy every month. The consumer research department of M&M’s Candies bought a space in about a dozen retail locations. There was always a spot reserved on the displays for the new candy of the month. The product development team, which Dr. Brody was on, had to develop, produce and package a new candy every month.  They were put on the shelves to see if consumers liked it. If they sold well, they were put into the regular production line up. If they did not, they were taken off of the shelves. Dr. Brody said because of this system he has had “more product failures than anyone”. Even though every candy did not work out, Dr. Brody was very successful. One of their biggest successes was “Starburst”.

They adapted a formula from their sister company in England, Opal Fruits, to make a chewy fruit flavored candy. They gave it the name “Starburst” and designed a package with pictures of a strawberry, lemon, lime and orange. The team chose this because they “thought that it was a real attraction, because it makes you feel like you are tasting the real fruit.” Unfortunately, they could not keep the packaging or the name. Fruit could not be on the package because there was no real fruit in the candy. Dr. Brody also received a call from corporate when they were about to print the package with the name “Starburst” that Mars wanted it changed to “M&M’s Fruit Chewies”. They had to redesign the package that day and managed to get the candy out on time.

The candy was a success in the monthly “new candy spot” so it was put out into the rest of the market.. Dr. Brody explains that “M&M’s mean chocolate to everyone, so trying to sell a sugar candy under the name would not work”. They brought back “M&M’s Fruit Chewies” under the name that did not make it to print the first time, “Starburst”.  Today, “Starburst” is one of the most popular candies at Mars, with several varieties on the market. Next time you unwrap one of those chewy candies, thank Dr. Brody!