A welcome return for the humble Opal Fruit is fuelled by consumer nostalgia

A short but hopefully relatively sweet column for you this week in just offering a warm welcome to an old favourite in the confectionery world – the return, albeit slight revival, of classic Opal Fruits sweets.

They were brought back again in a nostalgic move for a limited edition, having had their name changed back to Starburst back in 1998 to match their branding in the US, but it seems fans just can’t get enough of them under their much-appreciated British moniker.

According to Mars, the latest re-emergence of the name is its ‘final appearance’ but you can’t help wondering that in an age when the customer is very much considered to be right, if enough people keep on clamouring for them to return to the format they loved, then eventually they’ll be back once again for good. It follows a similar move made by the brand last year relating to the UK’s Marathon bars – which also suffered a similar fate in that their British name withdrawn to match the US-styled Snickers bar range.

Such judgement calls might lead one to wonder if branding for products really does need to be precisely the same around the world for confectionery, or any other item for that matter? The answer must surely be no – in the wider culinary world, there’s a great general belief in celebrating nuances and variations in flavours, branding and packaging, that are often closely aligned to regional cultural identity and taste preferences.

So while on the one hand, it’s quite understandable to see how manufacturers might feel a chocolate series or range of sweets has to look identical wherever it is, perhaps the wave of nostalgia that the likes of Marathon and Opal Fruits are riding, has highlighted the need for a little flexibility in allowing for some global quirks in naming and design.

Neill Barston,editor, Confectionery Production

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Confectionery Production