A Handful of Skittles
Not gonna get political. Not gonna do it. And if anyone tries to get all political down in the comments section, I’m going to delete it. Seriously, what the world needs now is a little bit of comfort and a whole lot of love.
And what could be happier than a colorful bag of Skittles. Taste the rainbow. Right?
Well, last night I checked out why Skittles were trending on Twitter, and it was something awful. There’s nothing like seeing pictures of refugee children when you have small children of your own. It’s gut wrenching.
But instead of talking about dehumanizing the refugee crisis by comparing suffering children to colorful pieces of candy, I’ve got another idea. Let’s take a moment and check out the existential questions surrounding Skittles.
First, can you even name the flavors that come in each bag?
Maybe it would be easier to think about them more as colors than as flavors. I’ll give you a hint. The colors are Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 and Lake.
You put them all together and you get orange, purple, yellow, red, and green. Those translate into something approximating orange, grape, lemon, strawberry, and green apple. But the flavors are synthesized in a lab, some of which are derived from some form of a natural product.
Here’s a great website by the food flavor industry. It describes the flavorist as part chemist and part artist. I’d add magician too. It’s not small feat figure out the right balance of the hundreds of compounds that work together in a strawberry, to create the flavor we associate with the fruit. But I’d rather enjoy the flavor of strawberries by sourcing amazing strawberries and using them in the food I eat.
But fresh foods are not shelf stable. They are also expensive. And after extensive processing they can lose much of their vibrant color and flavor.
Do you know what kind of fruit candy I enjoy? Candied fruit peels.
Skittles don’t try to replicate this long time classic, but I think they have distinct similarities. They are bright and colorful. They have fruit flavors. They are sweet and chewy. Actually, I think candied fruit peels might be even better if they were cut into smaller pieces for more convenient snacking than the longer strips in which they are more commonly found.
Plus, you can dip candied fruit rinds in dark chocolate. Dark chocolate coated orange peels are some of my favorite treats, because chocolate-orange is such a killer combo.
These confections taste like fruit because they are made from fruit. Cleverly, they are made from a part of the fruit that might otherwise be thrown away. Yet, citrus rinds contain so much flavor from the oils in the zest. Even after they have been boiled to remove the bitterness of the pith and tenderize the segments.
The time to make these at home probably isn’t until the winter citrus season. But I’m happy to simply buy them when the mood strikes.
Skittles on the other hand, I’ve never ever desired. I’ve eaten a few when they were the only candy around. But why someone would want to eat a handful of flavored and colored chewy sugar nuggets is beyond me.
It’s not that I object to flavored and colored sugar in its entirety. Cotton candy is delightful, once or twice a year. Working through a packet of Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip isn’t without its charms. Every now and again I’ll get a hankering for a few Swedish Fish.
But the Skittles are just beyond me. Seriously, is there an adult out there who might ever consider eating a handful of skittles? Because I really don’t see the appeal.