Before Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans made their debut on the page 22 years ago, there were certainly candies on the market that—in the Garbage Pail Kids tradition—looked comically gross. They resembled gummy boogers, but still functioned as candy should: providing a pleasant flavor sensation for too brief a moment. Now that we live in a post-Bertie Bott universe, The Jelly Belly Candy Company has found a way to not only market disgusting flavors, but to gamify them with the wildly popular BeanBoozled, a children’s Russian roulette where any given bean might be Tutti-Fruitti or Stinky Socks; Coconut or Spoiled Milk.
Now, Skittles has jumped enthusiastically onto the pile with their latest release, Zombie Skittles. Just in time for Halloween, this gray-and-black package warns: “BEWARE. Most taste delicious but some taste like Rotten Zombie. Dare to try?”
I’ve never felt more negged by a Walgreens purchase. I tore the bag open with undue force and proceeded one Skittle at a time.
Skittle #1: Zombie
As if taunting me, the very first one out of the bag is a Zombie, masquerading as a Chilling Black Cherry. Having no basis of comparison yet, there’s a split-second where I believe I’ve simply forgotten what Black Cherry is supposed to taste like—but then the rot sets in. And this rot is not like the momentary savory ick of a dog-food-flavored Jelly Belly you thought was chocolate pudding. This is a funk that lasts. It’s got a distinct barbecue edge, layering salt and meat and bitterness on top of whatever sweet flavor it has zombified.
Skittle #2: Mummified Melon
I couldn’t have asked for a better palate cleanser. This is one fine Skittle! Tastes like something from their Tropical bag (or their Smoothie Mix bag, or their Crazy Cores bag, or whatever irregular overstock they’re currently dealing with). There’s a lot of convincing honeydew flavor packed into such a tiny volume. Nothing about this tastes mummified, but how long can my luck last?
Skittle #3: Blood Red Berry
Perhaps the most lazily named of the bunch, but it’s fine. It sits somewhere between cherry and raspberry, with a rather flat taste akin to Dots or Jujubes. A zombie infection would at least make this Skittle stand out from the pack.
Skittle #4: Boogeyman Blackberry
On the strength of this Skittle, I’m requesting an entire “Harvest” bag of berry varieties. This is a rich and juicy flavor, with an atypically pleasant aftertaste. A bold, hazard-free pick from the bag. Now, to try Citrus Punch.
Skittle #5: Zombie
Son of a bitch. Time to return to my beloved Mummified Melon for comfort.
Skittle #6: Zombie
SON OF A BITCH. Citrus Punch again?
Skittle #7: Citrus Punch—Wait, Shit, Zombie?—No, Citrus Punch
Each tentative nibble into every new Skittle is totally psyching me out now as I brace for a rot that doesn’t come. It makes it hard to enjoy the fruity flavors at all, but luckily this one is just plain orange and nothing too special.
Skittle #8: You Better Believe This One Was A Zombie, Too
Any trick-or-treaters who receive a bag of these on Halloween have my permission to egg the offending house.
The ratio of Zombie to non-Zombie Skittles in this bag is shockingly high. But for any devious turds looking to prank their friends, the nastiness is the point—and this nastiness delivers. It’s not just the sour, meaty tang chosen to represent “rot” that makes these Skittles hard to stomach, but the implication of the rot itself: Zombies. Reanimated dead people. Necrotic flesh. For a candy that can’t even nail down “red berry,” Skittles’ more human flavors are decidedly uncanny, and the result is horrific. Leaving us to hover in that fear from the beginning of the bag to the end is Halloween incarnate.