The Untold Truth Of Skittles

Did you ever look at a rainbow and wonder what it might taste like if it happened to be made of candy? Legend has it that one man, whose name was Mr. Skittles, did, and the rest is history. While there may be those who argue that Mr. Skittles is real, The Fact Site says that there are those who say that the candy was actually invented by the Wrigley Company (the gum manufacturers), which continues to produce Skittles today.

Another fact that might surprise you is that the very American Skittles candy actually has a very British background. The Fact Site also says Skittles was born in the UK back in 1974, and actually spent the first five years of its life as a Brit before being sent across the pond to the United States. And after three years of exporting Skittles to America, its manufacturer — the Wrigley Company — decided to begin producing the candy in the U.S. too, saving the candy a trip across the Atlantic before it could be enjoyed.

Weird advertising is the norm for Skittles

The spectrum of colors found in a Skittles bag is what probably prompted one New York Advertising company to come up with the slogan "Taste the Rainbow" back in 1994. While the ad agency that came up with the slogan has since folded, "Taste the Rainbow" is still being used today, making it one of the longest-running ad campaigns ever. 

Skittles commercials also stand out, because while they often start out in a fairly ordinary way, they end on a weird twist. Scott Vitrone, who worked on the original campaign, says (via Creative Review), "Skittles had a history of magic and the rainbow and weirdness. It was inherent to the brand and that's why it worked." Today, ads include "Skittles Pox" — showing a boy covered with Skittles who claims what he has may not be contagious as a girl peels off a piece of candy to munch on, or a butler heading to the kitchen to dress up the candy by plunging a piece into "Yogurt Boy."

Weirdness aside, Skittles is definitely innovative — The Daily Meal says Skittles was fully invested in social media by 2009, as it used YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to push its marketing campaigns, making it one of the first food products to use the emerging platforms.

Do all Skittles share the same flavor?

Skittles may be one of America's favorite non-chocolate candies, but in 2018, Skittles and its fellow candy Haribo Gummy bears were put in the middle of a controversy over flavors, thanks to neuroscientist Don Katz, when he claimed: "Skittles have different fragrances and different colors, but they all taste exactly the same." Katz told Today that he had come to that conclusion after he conducted an experiment where he blindfolded subjects, made them wear nose clips, and fed them one particular colored Skittle, when he was in fact giving them another. Katz says subjects were correct just 50 percent of the time, which to him: "means that you actually have no idea. This is how we know that they don't have different tastes."

Katz says there is a difference between "taste" (which is what our tongues tell our brains), "smell" (the message from our nose to our brain), and "flavor" (a combination of signals between the tongue, nose, eyes, and ears). "The coolest thing is that our brain fools us into thinking that this combined signal is actually coming from the tongue — the smell/color/sound/feel of a food changes what we think the food tastes like!" Katz said in an email to Today.

Skittles don't just look different, they taste different

It turns out that Katz wasn't exactly correct. Unlike M&M's, which candies come in different colors but all taste the same, a spokesman for Skittles' manufacturer — currently called Mars-Wrigley — denies that all the candy comes in one flavor. "Each of the five fruity flavors in Skittles has its own individual taste and flavor," he said, and also noted that the candies are unique because their flavors are mixed into both their hard shells and their chewy centers.

That formula has allowed Skittles to branch out. In the past, Original Skittles came in five flavors and colors: grape, orange, strawberry, lemon, and lime; little has changed since then, except for the fact that lime has been replaced with green apple, and that there have been several different kinds of Skittles — including Original, Sour, Wild Berry, Tropical Rainforest, Orchards, Flavor Mash-ups, Darksides, Blenders, and Desserts (via Ranker).