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Can You Eat Starburst Wrappers?

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Many people enjoy eating Starbursts with the wrapper as a convenient way of quickly consuming the candy without “painstakingly” unwrapping them.

But can you eat Starburst wrappers? No. While Starburst wrappers are not toxic, you should still avoid eating them because they are not designed to be consumed and may cause health problems if they are eaten in large quantities. 

Read below to learn more about Starburst wrappers, why people eat them, and what to do if you accidentally ate the wrapper. 

Starburst Wrapper – Why Eat It?

Starbursts are an extremely popular candy that is sold by the Wrigley Company. 

It is a soft taffy candy that was introduced in 1960 and is an iconic all-American brand that is well known in many parts of the world. 

The candy has historically been sold in bars made up of small pieces of individually wrapped Starbursts. 

Most people tend to remove the wrapper from the candy before eating it but others opt to eat it with the wrapper as it saves time – but why are Starbursts wrappers perceived as edible?  

It turns out that, unlike other brands that use foil or plastic packaging, Starbursts are wrapped in paper packaging that is coated with a special wax that is designed to create a barrier between the candy and the wrapper. 

The wax coating is what prevents the wrapper from annoyingly sticking to the candy – and this packaging method has been in use since the candy was first introduced! 

It is believed that the paper material is what gives the wrapper the perception of being edible. But it is important to note that the company has never advertised it or advised against eating it. 

The truth is that there aren’t that many people who eat Starbursts with the wrappers, and fortunately, there haven’t been any complaints regarding the matter too, which is why the company hasn’t addressed the issue yet. 

But that hasn’t stopped people from saving a couple of seconds and eating the candy with the wrapper. 

Some might even bite off a piece straight from the bar using their teeth. If you think about it, you are just consuming paper – right? Not really. 

The thing is, manufacturers only print the ingredients of the candy and other marketing and regulatory material on the packaging. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the ingredients or chemicals that make up the packaging. 

Sure, you might see something like “made from recyclable material” or other similar phrases on the wrapper but you will rarely see a brand list down the constituents of the packaging because, you know, they aren’t meant to be eaten. 

Are Starburst Wrappers Safe?

This is a tricky question to answer because there is very limited information on the wrappers – and since there (fortunately) haven’t been enough cases regarding the consumption of the packaging, it is unlikely that the company will release any information regarding the ingredients that make up the wrappers. 

Unless there is a social media wave that forces the company to release an official statement about this trend – you should just follow common sense and avoid eating the wrapper. 

Not convinced? 

If you are someone who occasionally or regularly eats starbursts candy with the wrapper, then here are a few possible risks that you may want to consider:

There Is Ink On The Packaging

The wrappers aren’t just plain paper – they also have ink on them.

Usually, manufacturers will use food-safe ink on the packaging material that is directly in contact with food, but in the case of Starburst wrappers, each candy is individually packed and its logo is printed on the outside – so there is no telling if the ink is safe to eat or not!

Think about it: we have always been told to avoid storing food in newspapers and printed wrappers because the ink may leak onto the food.

The same reasoning applies here too – and since people willfully eat the wrappers, this might be more of a hazard.

The Paper Wrappers Contain Toxic Colors

Just like the wrappers have printed material on them using ink, the wrappers also contain a large amount of dye. 

Starbursts are known to have colorful packaging and the company uses different colors to denote flavors. For example, lemon-flavored Starbursts will have a bright yellow color.

The hidden detail here, though, is the type of dye used to make the packaging. We searched through the official online material and knowledge-base provided by Starbursts but there is no mention of the packaging or the types of materials used in it. 

But environmental agencies, like the Environmental Defense Aid, indicate that
manufacturers commonly use industrial-grade colors to print packaging (on plastics or paper.

These wrappers can contain per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances,
heavy metals, residual processing aids, and many other contaminants that
can hinder brain development, cause reproductive harm, and lead to
endocrine disruption in humans.

So, it is safe to say that eating large concentrations of dye and ink should not be on your list of edible foods! 

The Wrappers Can Cause Digestive Issues

Starbursts seem to be made from a composite of paper and other materials. Paper on its own is quite porous which means that it can soak up oils released from the candy in hotter temperatures. 

However, this isn’t the case with Starbursts, as the paper and wax coating keep the packaging free of any residue. This indicates that there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to the “paper” packaging of the candy. 

Why is this important to know? Well, paper is naturally fibrous and contains a high amount of insoluble fiber. 

Soluble fibers are usually dissolved in liquids or gastrointestinal fluids and can be absorbed by the body without causing any issues.

Insoluble fiber is the complete opposite. It remains undigested and moves mostly unchanged across the digestive system. 

While we do consume a lot of insoluble fiber in our diet, most of this specific natural fiber is designed to increase stool density or add mass to your poop.

In the case of Starburst wrappers, the packaging may move unchanged throughout the digestive system and can potentially cause blockages. 

If enough wrappers clump up in the digestive tract they might fully or partially block the intestine which will require immediate medical care.

Symptoms of a blockage can be a sharp or dull pain in the intestines, swelling of the abdomen, constipation, vomiting, inability to pass stool or gas, etc. 

Apart from this, the wrapper, ink, or even the wax may result in a strong immune response which will likely lead to a wide range of symptoms, similar to when you feel sick.

There is also no telling what allergens or other contaminants the exterior packaging might carry too!

Accidentally Ate A Wrapper? Here’s What To Do

If you accidentally consumed a wrapper then the best course of action would be to wait. Please do not panic and never induce vomit without proper medical supervision. 

In most cases, eating just one to two wrappers will not cause any digestive or health issues – and this is likely going to be the case for many people, considering that there are quite a lot of people who already eat the candy with the wrapper. 

But the real question is: would you gamble your health on a hunch? 

We have already discussed all the bad things that can happen if you consume the candy with the wrapper so you know all the risks. We recommend that you avoid eating the wrappers at all costs as they are NOT designed to be eaten.

Please consult with a medical professional for more information on what you should do if you do end up accidentally eating the wrapper.

Parents should be especially vigilant when giving Starbursts to children because the wrappers may also pose a choking hazard. 

Chewing the candy with the wrapper on is going to undoubtedly be difficult, especially for the young which is why it might also cause throat irritation. 

Just remember, if the company wanted you to eat the candy with the wrapper, then there would be an added incentive in the form of flavored wrappers – but sadly, this isn’t the case with starbursts.

Related Questions 

Eating Starbursts with the wrapper on may be equal to playing Russian roulette with your gut health. 

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of eating starbursts candy, here are some related questions: 

Are starbursts wrappers made from rice paper?

No. candies wrapped in rice paper, commonly found in Japan, are meant to be eaten with the wrapper because the packaging is made from pure edible rice paper, as is also usually indicated by the manufacturer.

In the case of starbursts, the wrapper is made from regular waxed paper and there is no indication about its consumption by the company either. 

What can you do with Starburst wrappers?

If you are fond of candy wrappers and want to keep them, then a great way to recycle them would be to reuse them for arts and crafts. 

There is a whole community of people who recycle Starburst wrappers and other candy wrappers. The wrappers are usually used to make jewelry, origami, and more fun things. 

Here is a great video that shows how you can make pretty bracelets out of Starburst wrappers:

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