Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Skittles' Dark Side? Scary That They Think So.

I know I am on a Skittles rant of late, and I will move on in the next post (I promise).  However, after being disappointed by the Riddles, I was looking for some sort of reason to fall back in love with Skittles.  Therefore, when I saw the newest U.S. offering, Skittles Darkside - tagline: "the other side of the rainbow" - I immediately snatched them up and snuck (I refuse the proper conjugation "sneaked" on principle) them into my theater viewing of Argo

My opinion of them is colored (get it-- colored... rainbow... HUH?!) by many of the same concerns as I expressed in my Riddles post.  First, there are repetitive flavors: "midnight lime" is just "lime," and "blood orange" is not markedly different from "orange."  In addition, "dark berry" is simply a rehashing of one of the Mixed Berry Skittles line, and the "forbidden fruit" seems like a melon/punch type deal, again already addressed by Skittles.  The only really innovation here is the Pomegranate flavor, the "it" flavor of the decade for candies, juices and other edible items (see the surprisingly good pomegranate Tootsie Pop). 

The dark blue bag is nicely judged.  I wanted to pick up this bag.

All this said, I am live eat-blogging these Skittles even now, and I am not having the same kind of negative reaction I had with Riddles.  True, there is nothing "Dark" about these flavors, and so, there is no theme that binds these offerings; however, I find I like the candies.  I am not wild about the forbidden fruit or the berry flavors, but the pomegranate is good, and I have always liked lime and orange.  So, while there is nothing great about these Skittles, there is nothing that offensive about them, either.  Therefore, I give them a moderate endorsement.  A tip that real candy eaters probably already know: if you choose to "taste the rainbow" at once (eat a handful instead of anally separating the Skittles into colors), you will get a better Darkside experience.  A melange of flavors, where Red 40s and Yellow 5s seep together in harmony, is the way to go for sure.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Skittles Cannot Solve Riddle of Brand Extension

Once again, M&M Mars has missed the mark with one of its seemingly endless stream of brand extensions-- this time, the Skittles Riddles.  I got a package of these Skittles in my Xmas stocking (that's right: it's still happening!), and it was about the third time I had encountered the Riddles.  If you are unfamiliar with this candy, the basic premise is that the color of the Skittle does not tell you the flavor contained inside.  The flavor, therefore, is a "riddle" to be solved by the consumer.  The Sphinx's riddles these ain't, however.  Rather, these Skittles are an ineffectual assortment of odd flavors that, once identified, still do not imbue the consumer with the sense of glee that should accompany the eating of great candy.  First, the "punch" flavor is so generic as to be forgettable.  Second, the strawberry is an original flavor, which is disappointing to the Skittles purist: so few new ideas, eh Skittles?  Third, the apple flavor represents a kind of over-turning of American fans' wills, as people like me voted to keep the apple flavor from replacing the original lime Skittle in 2001 (check this old thread). Finally, the raspberry and watermelon flavors are OK, but boring, hardly enough to support a new line of Skittles. The fact that colors do not match flavors matters little when the flavors are so uninteresting.

The colors of these Skittles do not exactly make one salivate, either.  They look like the colors that toddlers get when they over-mix their finger paints.

This failure supports my general opinion that candy extensions are often sub-par.  Readers may remember, for example, my invective take on tropical candy brand extensions.  People might also simultaneously remember, though, that in the same post, I praise the Sour Skittle as one of the turn-of-the-century's greatest achievements.  So ultimately, the fact that the Riddles are on close-out at the local Kroger's and out of stock in most online candy stores (suggesting their imminent discontinuation) is only marginally pleasing to me.  I would never want to stifle the potentiality of brand extension candy.  For every travesty, like the chewy Spree, there are triumphs, like the Sour Skittle or Gummi Sweetart.  Yes, the Skittles Riddles are a big flop, but they are perhaps a stepping stone to future innovation, and we can all get behind that.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch

Today marks the beginning of a new feature here on the Candied Life: a serial tribute to those who have helped the candy cause.  These men and women are sometimes pioneers, but also sometimes just people who like candy and represent that affinity in their everyday lives.

Today's honoree just scored what should be the decisive score in an NFL playoff game for the Seattle Seahawks.  He is one of the NFL's greatest talents, a man ripped with muscle and impossible to tackle with just one defender.  One would think that this man would only pour protein shakes and probiotics into his body; however, this athlete, running back Marshawn Lynch, is a Skittles fiend.

Last year he was famously seen being fed the Rainbow of Fruit Flavors on the sideline during a game, and since, he has become a kind of icon for the candy.  After fans began to throw Skittles onto the field following Lynch TDs, the league, being the grouchy old men that they are, told Marshawn to chill out on his fruity fervor.  Undaunted, Lynch wore Skittles-themed cleats during a game and swiftly received a $10,000 fine for his enthusiasm. 

This is the kind of dedication in the face of persecution that in a perfect world we would all demonstrate, and because of his use of his high-profile career for the advancement of candy, Marshawn Lynch is here honored.