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Starburst candy to send fans' TikTok videos into outer space

Have you ever wondered how they make Starburst taste to juicy? After more than eight years of asking, Starbust is taking the search to new galaxies and any extraterrestrial life forms that may be listening.
Have you ever wondered how they make Starburst taste to juicy? After more than eight years of asking, Starbust is taking the search to new galaxies and any extraterrestrial life forms that may be listening. (Image credit: Starburst)

Starburst, the fruit-flavored soft taffy, is taking a nod from its name and preparing to become the first brand to send TikTok videos into outer space.

Beginning today (Sept. 6), fans of the chewy candy are invited to use the short-form video service to pose the question, "How do they make Starburst taste so juicy?" The most creative and imaginative TikTok videos will win the chance to be broadcast out into the galaxy for the benefit of anyone who might be listening.

"While Starburst is no stranger to encouraging curiosity, wonder and imagination, 'Ask The Universe' is the brand's first mission in space exploration," Martin Terwilliger, marketing director for Mars Wrigley, told Space.com. "That's why we wanted to make sure this campaign is out of this world … partnering with SpaceSpeak to become the first brand to beam TikToks into space utilizing their unique technology."

Related: Astronaut makes history with 1st TikTok from space

Originally conceived in 2005 by Peter Beery, a professor and entrepreneur with a doctorate in elementary particle physics, SpaceSpeak uses a low wattage 2-5 GHz transmitter attached to an 18-inch parabolic dish to transmit messages — or in this case converted TikTok videos — into space. The photons that comprise these messages will continue to travel through space for uncounted millennia.

"According to SpaceSpeak, the videos will travel at the speed of light; meaning, once they are beamed into space, they'll travel all the way through the solar system on the first day alone," a media alert describing the Starburst "Ask The Universe" TikTok Challenge read.

TikTok creators only need to tag their videos with #BeamItUpStarburst to enter. Those who are selected can visit the "Ask The Universe" website to see where their video is traveling in space in real time.

"The conversation around outer space on TikTok is massive. We know that millions of people are using the platform to connect with other space enthusiasts and seeking out content that's both educational and more sci-fi inspired," said Terwilliger. With such a fun question that needs answering – 'How do they make Starburst taste so juicy?' – we are excited to see the imaginative ways that fans try to communicate with any potential higher life forms out there."

The most creative and imaginative TikTok videos asking "How do they make Starburst taste so juicy?" will win the chance to be beamed up into the depths of outer space through a partnership with SpaceSpeak — making Starburst the first brand to ever beam TikToks into space. (Image credit: Starburst)

Starburst has partnered with astrophysicist and space communications expert Kirsten Banks (@astrokirsten (opens in new tab) on TikTok) to provide an example and a little inspiration on how to create beam-worthy content. Hundreds of thousands of people have watched Banks' videos, which cover topics such as the sounds of a black hole and the latest discoveries by the James Webb Space Telescope.

So what does makes Starburst so juicy?

"That's the age-old question!" said Terwilliger. "For years, humans have asked what really makes Starburst so juicy, but it's largely gone unanswered here on Earth. We're hoping our fans can help us pose the question to the universe and any higher intelligence that may be out there so we can get some answers!"

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Robert Z. Pearlman
collectSPACE.com Editor, Space.com Contributor

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.