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Vegan Sweets - Skittles

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

"Taste the rainbow"

Skittles are fruity flavoured chewy sweets, or candy, that were first produced in Britain in 1974, by the Wrigley Jr. Company. The first flavour selection was the Original Fruit Skittles, lemon (yellow), lime (green), blackcurrant (purple), orange (orange) and strawberry (red). As the sweets started to be sold around the world some of the flavours changed according to the tastes of the country, for example, in the USA the green Skittles were changed from lime to apple and the purple Skittles were changed from blackcurrant to grape. The first Skittles flavours were fruit based, however, you can now get Skittles in all kinds of flavours from chocolate to popcorn.

skittles, sweets, candy, original
Did you know that Skittles are a British sweet

A Brief History of Skittles

No one really knows exactly how Skittles were created. Some say that a man named Mr Skittles looked at a rainbow and wondered how it would taste. Another story is that the sweets were created by a confectionary company and named skittles after the game, they were then made by the Wrigley company for sale.

Skittles weren't sold in the USA until 1979 and slowly made their way around the world. Skittles are now sold in more than 65 countries, with a different selection of Skittles varieties being sold in different countries according to what the people like.

Were Skittles Always Vegan?

Were Skittles always vegan? In a word, no. The original Skittles were not vegan friendly, they were made with beef gelatine for the chewy texture and the red pigment of the strawberry Skittles came from carmine, made from insect scales. However, in 2009 the decision was made to make Skittles vegetarian friendly and the gelatine was removed, they still used carmine for the red until 2015 when Skittles became fully vegan.

The move to make Skittles vegan made vegans happy and caused few problems, however, a lot of controversy was caused by the Skittles temporary colour change 1 year later. In June of 2016 the decision was made to strip Skittles of their signature rainbow and to make them white. This was done to support the Gay Rights Movement during the 2016 London Pride. These limited edition Skittles were sold in white bags with black print, not the usual red bags. The sweets inside still tasted the same, however, with them all being white you would have no idea which flavours you had until you ate them. On the back of each monochrome bag the Wrigley Company gave an explanation for the change:

"So this is kind of awkward, but we're just gonna go ahead and address the rainbow-colored elephant in the room. You have the rainbow... we have the rainbow... and usually that's just hunky-dory. But this Pride, only one rainbow deserves to be the centre of attention - yours. And we're not going to be the ones to steal your rainbow thunder, no siree."

Many saw this as a message of solidarity, a beautiful message of support, however, some people seemed to take it the wrong way with headlines like "Some People Think Skittles’ All-White Pride Candies Are Racist". Claims were made that, by only having white Skittles the company failed to acknowledge the diversity within the LGBT community. Personally I see it as a sign that colour and other differences don't matter, it makes us all special, not other, but I'm not easily triggered. Since then, every June, Skittles repeats the colourless marketing to spread Pride awareness and raise proceeds for an LGBT charity, the Switchboard helpline, in the United Kingdom.

Taste The Rainbow

The slogan "Taste The Rainbow" became the Skittles tag line in 1994 and has become one of the longest running advertisement campaigns ever. The phrase was coined by D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, a New York advertising agency, they created the whole theme for the Skittles advertising campaign, which included bright posters and quirky television advertisements.

In 2009, at the same time as reformulating for vegetarians, Skittles became involved in social media, using internet based platforms to reach more customers. A website, YouTube channel, Twitter account and a Facebook page were launched.

Skittles have also become popular on Tik Tok, in life hack and science videos, with people using hydraulic presses to make Skittle doughnuts, kids making rainbows in water, using a waffle maker to create Skittle lollies or making Skittle popcorn.

So, yeah, Skittles, vegan, yummy, it's all good.


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