Why Do Purple Skittles Taste Different Outside The U.S.?

Image courtesy of luke_wes

The idea that purple Skittles could taste like anything other than grape is not one familiar to folks who are used chomping on the candies in the U.S. — what else could it possibly be, after all, with that color? But outside the U.S., the purple part of the rainbow tastes completely different.

Purple skittles in the United Kingdom and Australia get their flavor inspiration from the blackcurrant, a berry that’s dark in hue and has more of a sweet and tarty tang to it than grapes, Atlas Obscura points out. It makes sense, as blackcurrant is a flavor that’s not very popular stateside, while the berry and its juice are found in many products, from cordials to tea.

Things might’ve been different if the U.S. government hadn’t outlawed growing blackcurrant shrubs in the early 20th century because the plant was spreading white pine blister rust, a fungus that destroys wood.

As of the 1960s, the federal ban is no more, so you could grow blackcurrant bushes in your backyard, if you wanted (and if your state allows it). But in the meantime, Americans just don’t have a taste for the berries like they do in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

So what does it taste like? When sweetened, the fruit tastes like a cross between a blueberry and cranberry, Atlas Obscura explains.

“People consistently love the flavor, but they just didn’t grow up with [blackcurrants],” one berry farmer told the site. “They do have a stronger taste than the American palate is used to.”

Why the Purple Skittle Tastes Different Outside America [Atlas Obscura]