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Skittles’s ‘Rotten Zombie’-Flavored Halloween Candy Is Punishment for Our Sins

The “utterly disgusting” candy is a dare for the truly masochistic

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A pair of zombie hands sticking out of the dirt, holding up a sign with an image of Zombie Skittles.
Endorsed by zombies?
Skittles photo: Skittles. Zombie illustration: FOTOKITA/Shutterstock. Photo-illustration: Eater.

Three months before Halloween, Skittles has launched its signature spooky candy of the year: Zombie Skittles, a pack with five normal fruit flavors and one hidden “rotten zombie” flavor described by the brand as “utterly disgusting.” The zombie duds blend in with the other varieties — Mummified Melon, Boogeyman Blackberry, Chilling Black Cherry, and Blood Red Berry — so you won’t know until you’ve bitten into a Skittle whether or not it has “the repulsive taste known as rotten zombie,” turning the simple act of eating candy into a game of Russian roulette.

“Rotten zombie,” “utterly disgusting,” and “repulsive” are not exactly helpful descriptors; neither is the revelation that “every palate will perceive the taste differently, but everyone will know it’s ‘rotten’ when they get it,” as a Skittles spokesperson told Food & Wine. Luckily, where there are novelty foods, there are intrepid YouTubers willing to eat them on camera — case in point, this 10-minute video titled “Trying GROSS Candy: Zombie Skittles,” in which vlogger Heather Michelle stumbles upon the zombie Skittles no less than three times while trying the pack. Here are some quotes that are much more useful for imagining the taste without having to actually eat the cursed candies:

  • “Imagine eating rotten cabbage”
  • “It’s very savory, is how I would describe it. It tastes like a strong soup, but I’m just getting a strong cabbage, maybe a meaty, taste”
  • “The longer it sits on my tongue, the worse it tastes”
  • “Even my breath smells rotten”
  • “Not to be dramatic, but I’m legit going to throw up”

This isn’t the first time a snack has been transformed into a game of risk. Jelly Belly’s BeanBoozled challenge mixes such flavors as peach and buttered popcorn with same-colored counterparts like barf and rotten egg. In Doritos Roulette bags, one out of four chips are so spicy they were declared a health risk in the U.K. The entire premise of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans in Harry Potter (and their real-life equivalent) is grounded in the idea of danger with every bite.

Now why the fuck do we as a people subject ourselves to this?? Pain and pleasure are important concepts to learn in life, but that’s a lesson that ought to (and will) be experienced outside of candy. It’s hard to imagine anyone eating Zombie Skittles as anything but a performative act, one meant to be filmed and shared online for the voyeuristic hunger of audiences accustomed to watching escalating feats of masochism, from the cinnamon challenge to the ice bucket challenge.

That impulse is exactly what Skittles is banking on for their newest product: the brand is “daring its fans” to gather a group of friends, record themselves eating Zombie Skittles, and share the experience on Instagram — with the carefully calibrated #DareTheRainbow hashtag, of course. We are simultaneously consumer and marketer, paying a giant corporation for the privilege of trolling ourselves. Bwahaha! Happy Halloween!