Skittles are a popular candy manufactured by Mars, Inc. Originally from the UK, the brand was brought here in the late seventies, and has nevcr looked back. The “taste the rainbow” theme has been used extensively in the brand’s marketing campaign. So what’s inside the rainbow?
What you need to know:
Here is Skittle’s ingredient list (which, by the way, does NOT appear on the Skittles website):
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil, Apple Juice from Concentrate, Less than 2% Citric Acid, Dextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Coloring (Includes Yellow 6 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 1), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C).
Not surprising, the first two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup (a type of sweetener).
The hydrogenated palm kernel oil is a glue to hold all that sugar together, as does the modified corn starch.
Dextrin (E1400) is a white or yellow powder produced from starch. It is used coatings and glazes, and may cause an allergic reaction.
The natural and artificial flavors are trade secrets, and NO YOU CAN’T find out what they are. But these are what give each of the skittles its lime, grape, berry, etc… flavors.
Our “favorite” part of the ingredient list is the rainbow of artificial food colorings, including no less than 9 colorants. Other countries are phasing out these colors, but America just loves children with blue and green tongues, so the FDA maintains the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status of these chemicals. For example, Red 40 is suspected of causing hyperactivity in children.
Don’t expect any nutritional value in Skittles. A single serving 2 oz pack contains 250 calories and a whopping 47 grams of sugar (that’s 12 teaspoons of sugar in a personal bag). Surprisingly, vitamin C content is 50% of the daily value, but that’s because Ascorbic acid has been added to the product. The palm kernel oil contributes 2.5 grams of saturated fat to the mix (that’s 13% of the daily value, from a candy!)
What to do at the supermarket:
There are better choices for sweet snacks. Fruits and dried fruit are at the top of the list. But even if you want something concocted in a factory, you don’t need to opt for the worst. Look for options without artificial colorings.
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