NEW YORK -- A mysterious Skittles spill on a rural highway in Wisconsin is taking another twist, with Mars Inc. saying it doesn’t know why the discarded candy was about to be used as cattle feed.
The case began when a Wisconsin sheriff posted on Facebook this week that “hundreds of thousands of Skittles” had been found spilled on a rural highway and it was unclear how they got there. Later, he updated the post to say the candy had fallen off the back of a truck on its way to be cattle feed.
“Due to it raining at the time, the box got wet and gave way allowing the Skittles to spill out on the roadway,” the post said. “It is reported that the Skittles were intended to be feed for cattle as they did not make the cut for packaging at the company. In the end these Skittles are actually for the Birds!”
Only red Skittles had spilled out, and Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt joked in the post that it would be difficult to “Taste the Rainbow” in its entirety.
The incident gained attention online after CNN wrote about it, citing a report from a local affiliate.
The use of a variety of food byproducts for animal feed is common, and Skittles maker Mars Inc. says it has procedures for discarding foods for that use. However, the company says the Skittles in question came from a factory that doesn’t sell unused products for animal feed.
“We don’t know how it ended up as it did and we are investigating,” Mars said.
Company spokeswoman Denise Young said the Skittles were supposed to be destroyed because a power outage prevented the signature “S’’ from being placed on the candies. She said Mars planned to contact the sheriff’s office and the farmer to find out more.
Schmidt said the Skittles spilled from a box that started to disintegrate in the rain, and about half of them got out. The Skittles on the ground did not have the standard letter “S’’ on them, he said.
The sheriff said he has spoken to the farmer, but did not provide a name and said he did not have a contact number for him.
Josh Cribbs, a cattle nutritionist and director of commercial development for the American Maine-Anjou Association, which promotes a particular cattle breed, said that which food byproducts get used for cattle feed varies depending on what’s available in the region and particular time of year. In places like Texas, for instance, Cribbs said citrus rinds are common.
Cribbs said a specific product would not be used alone, but be mixed with other ingredients to achieve a particular nutritional profile.
“You might think, ‘Oh my gosh, they might be eating a Skittle.’ In reality, that piece of candy is being broken down,” he said.