Skittles Scattered Across Highway Were Destined For Cattle Feed: Mars Investigating

Image courtesy of Dodge County Sheriff's Department

Mars Inc. has a number of very distinct businesses under its sizable umbrella, covering everything from its well-known candy brands to pet food to veterinary clinics. But that doesn’t explain why a load of Skittles spilled all over a Wisconsin highway were on their way to become cattle feed.

A sheriff’s deputy in Dodge County, WI, noticed “hundreds of thousands” of small red things on the road on a rainy night, and they turned out to have the distinctive smell of Skittles. The sheriff’s department posted photos on its Facebook account, since that’s what one does when the road is covered with Skittles.

Mars Inc. is still investigating this incident, but here’s what the public knows, thanks to the Associated Press. Discarded or defective candy sometimes ends up in animal feed: Skittles would be subbed in for corn, perhaps, or another starch. You might picture cattle munching on candy, but the reality is more complicated and processed than that.

Mars says that it does send defective candies to be melted back down into syrup that’s used in animal feed at their other Skittles plant in Texas, but the box on the highway in Wisconsin came from a factory in Yorkville, IL.

The mystery, according to a corporate environmental manager for Mars, is that the company doesn’t sell directly to farmers, and the factory in Yorkville doesn’t sell its defective products for animal feed at all. The candies were supposed to be destroyed, and instead ended up on a truck in Wisconsin.

The defect in the Skittles, by the way, was that they were missing the white “S” that is normally printed on them, which a Mars spokeswoman blamed on a power outage during production. They scattered on the highway because a wet cardboard box burst.