Skittles are one of the most beloved and popular types of candy around the world. Developed in the 1970s by Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., this colorful treat has been a favorite for generations. It is estimated that more than 16 billion Skittles are sold every year in more than 70 countries. It’s no coincidence that people are so fond of Skittles; from the moment the first piece of soft, sweet candy exited the manufacturing plant to the moment it hits the dinner table, a Skittle’s journey is a fascinating one full of sensory and mechanical processes. In this blog post, we will explore every step of the experience of a Skittle from start to finish – from the manufacturing process to the eating experience – and learn what goes into creating the perfect Skittle.
The Manufacturing Process
Creating the Skittles’ secret ingredient—glycerol
The first step in the manufacturing process occurs in a chemistry lab located at Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. The company starts by combining triglycerides and glycerin in a special reaction vessel. The triglycerides are a type of fat sourced from coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or a combination of the two. The glycerin is also derived from these same sources. This combination of materials causes a reaction as the triglycerides break down and split into glycerol molecules and fatty acids. As the reaction proceeds, it is monitored and maintained at a specific temperature to ensure optimal output. The glycerol molecules are the end product of this reaction and are the secret ingredient in Skittles production.
Compounding the Skittles ingredients
Once the glycerol is ready, the manufacturing process continues in the compounding room. Here, the glycerol is combined with the other ingredients to make a syrup known as the sugar base. This sugar base is the core component that gives the Skittles their taste and texture. The sugar base contains sugar, corn syrup, citric acid, modified corn starch, and flavorings, among other ingredients. The compounding technicians take great care to use the exact quantities of each ingredient in order to create the perfect Skittle — too little sugar and it won’t be sweet enough; too much citric acid and the Skittle will taste sour.
Adding color to the mix
The next step is to create the signature rainbow-colored Skittles. To do this, several waxes and food colorings are mixed into the sugar base after it has cooled. The exact hues depend on the flavor of Skittles being made — yellow might be used for lemon while green might be used for lime — but in general these colorings are typically bright and eye-catching. Finally, the mixture is fed into a mixer as it is coated with a thin layer of wax. This wax helps keep the flavors locked in and separated as individual colored pieces.
Making the shape
The last step in the manufacturing process takes place in the shaping room, where the sugary dough is put into special forms to give it its distinctive shape. This dough is fed through rollers to create something called a “sheet,” which is then cut into individual pieces. These pieces are then dropped one-by-one into molds to create the famous ridged surface. After this, any excess wax is removed, and the individual Skittles are sorted and bagged.
Arriving at the Dinner Plate
Delivery from the warehouse
At the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. manufacturing plant, the newly created Skittles are packaged and shipped from the warehouse in massive containers. The containers are placed onto large trucks, often filled with other snacks and treats, which then make their way across the country. In order for Skittles to reach their destination, it is important that each truck is meticulously maintained, as every temperature and humidity change can significantly affect the quality of the Skittles.
Arrival at the store
After the long journey, the Skittles finally arrive at their destination: the store. Here, they are unloaded carefully and placed onto shelves, ready to be discovered by consumers. Now the real magic begins — people see the bright colors of the Skittles and can’t help but be drawn in by the experience.
In the home
Once purchased, the Skittles are taken home and placed on the dinner table. As the family sits down to enjoy their meal, the Skittles become a part of the experience — the colors, the shapes, the textures. It’s like a little rainbow of sweetness that adds color and flavor to the dinner.
The Eating Experience
Touching the Skittles
As soon as a person picks up the bag of Skittles, the adventure begins. First, there is the feeling of the package in the hands. The ridged surface of the candy creates a tactile sensation that excites the senses.
Tasting the Skittles
The next step is tasting the candy. As soon as the first piece is placed in one’s mouth, the combination of sweetness and tartness explodes. With each chew, the flavors blend together like a painting being put on a canvas. The texture of the Skittles is equally important — the ridges and grooves create an added level of complexity to the experience.
The Final Moment
Finally, after the Skittles are gone and the moment has passed, it’s time to savor the last taste. Sweet and savory aromas dance across the tongue, completing the experience.
The journey of a Skittle from start to finish is one of the most intricate and fascinating parts of the candy-eating experience. Every step of the production and consumption process is critical in creating an enjoyable, colorful, and flavorful experience — from the molecular reaction of making the glycerol, to the careful compounding of the ingredients, to the final, lingering taste. The care that goes into each small step is what makes a Skittle incredibly special, and why people all over the world find themselves drawn to the bright, rainbow colors of this unique candy.