Calling all sweet lovers! Have you ever wondered about the ingredients in your favorite candy, or how they achieve such a vibrant color? What exactly makes them so tasty and satisfyingly addictive? To help solve this sugary mystery is Bruno Xavier, a food scientist at Cornell Food Venture Center.
In a video shared by The Wall Street Journal, Xavier breaks down each ingredient used to make Skittles. While the actual Skittle-making process is a company secret, Xavier has intimate knowledge of each ingredient listed on the package.
Skittles is easily one of the top candies in the U.S., with annual sales of $185 million in 2017 according to Statista.
Xavier begins by breaking down the characteristics of a Skittle, which features its signature hard shell layer with a chewy interior. Comparing the consistency to a thick paste, he points out several key ingredients that contribute to it. With his ingredients ready, Xavier is able to formulate the best way to successfully combine them.
The first in line is hydrogenated palm kernel oil which helps oil stay solid at room temperature. It plays a major role in the chewy consistency, along with corn syrup. To help bind the ingredients, modified corn starch is used. With a little water and heat, the solution will develop a gel-like consistency.
Another ingredient used is titanium dioxide, which is banned in Europe, yet approved by the FDA for limited consumption. After recreating the chewy interior, Xavier then moves to the colorful hardshell. Skittles uses ten different color food additives dyes. One thing that might catch you off guard is that Yellow 5 and Red 40 typically derive from petroleum and coal. Although the FDA approves, Xavier warns that eating a spoonful of Red 40 probably isn’t the best idea.
He further underscores the downside to artificial ingredients, which simply is that we can’t know how they will affect us until we’ve tried them. Not to worry though, a pack of Skittles won’t send you to the hospital. Xavier continues breaking down other ingredients while recreating his Skittle, sharing that he hadn’t heard of the candy before coming to the U.S.
While the video doesn’t show the final results, Xavier does conclude it on a fun note by sharing his favorite Skittle color: Red.