News recently broke that while Skittles come in a rainbow of colors, they do not, in fact, come in a variety of flavors. That's right, you heard me.
According to an article on NPR, Don Katz, a neuropsychologist specializing in taste at Brandies University, revealed this shocking information:
"The Skittles people, being much smarter than most of us, recognized that it is cheaper to make things smell and look different than it is to make them actually taste different... So, Skittles have different fragrances and different colors — but they all taste exactly the same."
I heard this news and did not much care, because while I like Skittles very much, they are a candy and frankly, if I'm going to be frittering away my empty calories on candy, it will be of a chocolate variety thank you very much.
But then the subject of Skittles being one giant mono-flavored lie came up among my friends.
They were acting as though they'd just found out they were adopted. It was that level of shock and betrayal, like the world they thought they had always known was suddenly ripped from their clutches.
I didn't get it, so I asked them to explain it to me, and one was able to help me understand.
"Do you like Starburst?" He asked.
"Sure," I said, "I'm not a monster."
"Is your favorite color Starburst pink?"
"Sure," I again replied. "As I have mentioned, I am not a monster."
"Well, how would you feel if you learned that despite what you have believed your entire life, pink Starburst tastes just like all the other colors of Starburst."
It was then that I understood.
I mean, don't get me wrong. This was still just a debate about candy, but I was invested now. At last, I understood the feelings of betrayal.
I thought about it long and hard over the course of my flight to Chicago to visit my sister.
"They can't all be the same flavor," I thought to myself as I loitered in Hudson News at O'Hare airport, staring at the candy section.
Sure enough, in front of me I saw traditional red bags of Skittles along with those of the tropical variety. Could the only real difference between every last Skittle in these two types of bags combined be the colors? It seemed impossible.
But since I am a journalist, I bought one bag of each variety and took them with me to my sister's house, where I promptly fell asleep muttering to her about how we needed to do a taste test once I'd slept off my cold meds.
In short, I deserve a Pulitzer. Talk about reporting from the trenches.
Once revived from my short nap, I got to work organizing my taste test.
I had what I believed to be an ingenious yet admittedly disgusting idea. Having read about a taste test conducted by the team over at Vice food site MUNCHIES, where they had speculated that perhaps only the colored candy coating holds different flavors, I soaked a batch of Skittles in cool water until the shells melted away and all that remained were the sugary innards.
"Is she okay?," asked my brother-in-law when we walked into his kitchen to find me feverishly throwing Skittles everywhere.
"I don't know," said my sister. "I honestly don't know."
Friends, I had never felt better.
The first thing we did was try each flavor of skittle intact.
All four of us felt confident that we were, indeed, able to taste distinct flavors. In fact, I think it's worth noting that I'm currently seriously congested and even I could taste the rainbow, as it were. As a group, we decided that the purple Skittles have the strongest flavor, despite our knowing full well that purple is a color and not a taste.
Next up, we tried testing them blindfolded.
This was more of a crapshoot, with people guessing wildly what flavor they were eating and making outrageous demands such as being given a sip of coffee between each Skittle in order to "cleanse the palate," which I roundly denied them.
In the end, it was still the color purple that we all found the easiest to identify without the sense of sight.
Finally, we went for the soggy melted Skittles.
The texture was nasty and the "candy" itself had no flavor other than "sweet fruit" all around. I think if I were to do it all again, I would soak each skittle flavor in their own container, but hey, there's a reason I'm not a scientist.
Ultimately, if I had to certify my findings based on this project, I would have to say that it's the shell that gives each different color of Skittles a unique taste. That said, I have a feeling that it's the fragrance of each shell's color that makes them seem to taste differently, given the way in which our olfactory and taste senses are so reliant upon each other in order to work to their fullest.
In closing, I forgot about the tropical Skittles until just now, and I am currently sharing them with my sister's dog. Please do not tell her.
Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.