Food

It’s a Lime Skittles Halloween

Green, crunchy ellipsoids for all.

A packet of Skittles advertising the return of Lime floats on a background of individual Skittles candies.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Mars Inc. and Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash.

Skittles are the only candy I’m giving out this Halloween.

That’s because the company that makes them, Mars, has finally corrected the grave error that forced me to abandon the candy eight years ago. Just last month, Skittles announced it would be changing its current green Skittle flavor and going back to its previous iteration. Green apple is out, and lime is back in, baby.

In 2013, somebody at Skittles had the bright idea to mix up the original bag of chewy fruit pellets by swapping out the flavor of their green Skittle. Bidding farewell to reliable lime, Skittles hopped on the green apple wave, embracing a noxious and overpowering flavoring that was seeping into every corner of the fruit candy market at the time. Instead of considering how their candy is consumed, Skittles chose to chase the zeitgeist. And with this one choice, they utterly destroyed the integrity of their confection.

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I wasn’t the only one to feel really betrayed by the switch, back then. A wave of literally hundreds of commenters on Candyblog.net’s 2013 post about the lime-to-green-apple change berated Mars for its decision. “I think of lime as an ‘adult’ flavor,” one moaned. “You can find humdrum green apple anywhere–close your eyes in the candy aisle and point.” Another felt pursued by apple, to the ends of the earth: “This is an ugly trend that has been repeated with several of my favorite candies. Skittles, Sweet Tarts, Now and Laters.” A third voiced subversive plans for civil disobedience: “When I have a decent amount, I am going to send all of my green apple skittles back to the factory and ask them to please replace each one with a lime skittle.”

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Yes, these (presumed) adults were very mad about candy. But they had a point. Before this change, eating Skittles had been a perfect fruity experience. A well-balanced mix of sweet and tart, the five flavors blended perfectly in any combination, the sort of mix-and-match chemistry any sitcom would kill for. Grab a handful with all five colors and you’d be in for an explosive wash of flavor as the tastes of lime, strawberry, grape, orange, and lemon played across your tongue. Or you could sort them out in separate piles, to be eaten flavor by flavor. There were any number of ways to taste the rainbow—until the green apple clouds moved in and blocked out the sun.

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When the 2013 news broke, I immediately ran to the nearest supermarket and purchased a 64 ounce sack of Skittles, hoping to make the lime last as long as possible, knowing I’d likely never touch another bag of Skittles, because of the green apple update. I spent the summer slowly popping those morsels into my mouth and was genuinely sad when the bag ran dry. I never imagined I would be able to experience the magic of Skittles again. All I was left with was a fading sense memory of childhood bliss.

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After this woefully misguided change was made, Skittles were no longer a candy that fully functioned on the two valences of flavor mixture and flavor independence. Every mouthful of rainbow was marred by the inescapably imperious green apple flavor, and even if each green pebble had been removed from the bag—leaving the four-flavor combo of grape, strawberry, lemon, and orange—we were still left with an emptiness as our tongues sought out that missing fifth flavor.

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Rip open a bag of green apple–era Skittles and a pungent artificiality would waft up to the nose and latch on, refusing to let the consumer experience anything in the Skittles bag that hasn’t been tainted by this rotten apple. The scent and flavor seemed to attach themselves to every other Skittle in the bag, so even if a diligent consumer would sort through the color spectrum, every bite will have a hint of taint. Just as Bruce Willis learned in the Fifth Element that along with earth, fire, water, and air, love was essential to the essence of existence, the absence of the lime skittle reveals to us that its other flavor brethren are nothing without their bright-green compatriot.

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Thankfully, Skittles have course-corrected and now plan to fill their bags back up with the lime flavor we’ve all been craving. Earlier this year, Skittles released limited edition all-lime bags, which were a misguided attempt at rectifying the problem created in 2013, but one that certainly paved the way for this return to Skittle form.

And if there’s anybody out there mourning the loss of these toxic green apple rocks, you’d be better off grabbing a green apple blow pop, the only candy that’s got that flavor figured out. But if you’re hungry for these fresh lime morsels, swing by my place this Halloween, and I’ll fill up your sack.

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