The Real Reason Purple Skittles Taste Different In The UK

Tasting the rainbow is promised when snacking on Skittles. Thanks to outrageous marketing strategies that entertain rather than advertise, Skittles has become one of the world's most-identifiable candy brands. Although everyone has their preference on which color is the best, did you know that not all Skittles flavors are the same across the globe?

While Froot Loops sent shockwaves across the world after announcing the multi-coloured coils were all the same flavor (per Time), that isn't the case for Skittles. Contrary to any rumors you might have heard, the button-shaped candies don't just vary in color, but also taste. According to Wrigley, each chewy confection in the original assortment has a distinct fruit flavor ranging from orange, strawberry, lemon, lime, or grape — that is, unless you're snacking in the U.K. 

Interestingly, a lot of big brands actually have slightly different recipes around the world to accommodate consumer preferences and available resources. For example, The Guardian reports that Diet Coke will vary depending on which sweetener a country uses, whereas Heinz admits there might be "subtle" differences in their ketchup's spice blend from nation to nation. It should come as no surprise that one of the most recognized candies in the world, also follows suit. Let's address the purple elephant in the room.

Purple Skittles are blackcurrant flavored

Unlike in the U.S. where purple Skittles are grape flavored, in the U.K. (and even Australia), the candies actually taste of blackcurrant, notes Atlas Obscura. This is because, the outlet explains, during the early 1900s, blackcurrants were federally banned in America after lawmakers realized that the European-native plants were carriers of a wood-destroying fungus called white pine blister rust that threatened the timber industry. 

Despite the fact that the ban was lifted in the 1960s, Modern Farmer notes that Americans simply didn't have the palate for blackcurrants as they had been wiped from the American diet — something that is still typical today, although blackcurrant farmers are trying to change this. Instead, when Skittles began production in the U.S., grape was deemed more favorable, as it was already used to flavor other purple confections, sodas, and popsicles. 

But what exactly does blackcurrant taste like? Unlike grapes, the small black berries are actually quite sour. Their tart taste is similar to a raspberry or cranberry, but with an added earthiness. Since they are so mouth-puckering, they're often used to tart up sweet dishes like jams, syrups, pies, and of course, candies.