Fun with Skittles

I’m taking a photography class in hopes that I can improve my technique. We have an exhibition in a couple of weeks, and I’m behind on the number of “exhibitable” (ahem) prints. This weekend I rented a fisheye (16mm f2.8) and a macro (105mm f2.8) lens and set out to take a bunch of photos around the greater Seattle area that I will develop later this week.

After obsessively photographing various foodstuffs with the macro lens — there were so many interesting textures — I bought a bag of Skittles for color. My kids instantly recognized the package and, not coincidentally, had a keen interest in volunteering to help me in a fact-finding mission.

I thought it would be fun to take pictures of color combinations of Skittles. I poured the contents into a bowl while my lovely assistant and I took turns photographing them.

Can I eat one now?
Color Flavor # in bag Occurrence
Purple Grape 65 16.3%
Orange Orange 81 20.3%
Red “Strawberry” 75 18.8%
Green Lime 87 21.8%
Yellow Lemon 92 23.0%
Distribution of Skittles Colors

With her help, we separated the five colors into piles. This would facilitate color-coordinated photos. While doing this, I thought it would be appropriate to count the amount of each color to answer a question that’s been nagging me for some time: if I select a random Skittle from the bag, what’s the probability that I’d get a lemon one (which I like) versus a strawberry (which I don’t like)?

Understanding that this is only from one 16-ounce bag purchased at Fred Meyer, the results were still interesting: the citrusy flavors were slightly more likely to occur than the nasty ones. Furthermore, there were exactly 400 Skittles in a 16 ounce bag, or 25 Skittles per ounce.

Each Skittle is about 4.5 calories. Working off the calories from a 16-ounce bag will is equivalent to doing the Chilly Hilly. For those who prefer the “glass is half full” view, eating 107 Skittles will supply you with your daily allowance of Vitamin C!*

When we were done, we arranged them in a pretty pinwheel pattern. More photos were taken, and some of the Skittles were consumed during this exhaustive research.

*Obvious Disclaimer: Skittles should not be used as a dietary supplement.

17 thoughts on “Fun with Skittles”

  1. I can’t believe you only did the statistical analysis on just one bag. Seems like a random sampling of Skittles bags from around the city and suburbs of Seattle could provide a much more clear picture on the Skittles distributions and how they vary by the perceived Skittle-eating demographics down at Skittle HQ, where I imagine row upon row of VAX-era machines slowly churning through data mined via sophisticated techniques that will one day be SOP for candy company data gathering. Maybe they ask kids (i.e. ‘Consumers’). Maybe they ask non-kids, termed ‘Money Holders’. I don’t know. But these machines churning through this data, comically- and clichely-dressed scientists aimlessly wandering about in front of the phallanx of machines, silently twisting a knob with the right hand while holding a clipboard securing not a single piece of paper with the right, carefully studying an array of LEDs labeled ‘TASTINESS FACTOR’. Predictably, a large red light illuminates to the sound of a klaxon as a small slip of paper is printed out, spat onto the floor. Gathering about this piece of paper like six-year-old soccer players around a soccer ball, the lab-coat wearing knob-twiddlers read their latest discovery: the purple skittle really does taste like ass, in a provably scientific way; however, the note continues, without the purple skittle, the red skittle becomes the skittle whipping buy, and so it must remain. Yinnle and Yangle. Darkness and light. BALANCE.


  2. And I gotta say that you have to be the coolest Dad on the planet. My Dad never did anything that required candy. I would have been so happy to help!

  3. I would just like to say, that this would be an excellent idea for teaching because it incorporates probability with food and you can use this activity for so many math ideas. This is great! Can I steal this from you? Lol.

  4. > Can I steal this from you?

    Please do. It’s been one of the more popular lessons in homeschooling math. I’ve also added a “money game” where we learn buying and selling different amounts of Skittles. (Variations: dad likes lemon and lime, maybe those cost “more?”)

  5. Now now, be fair – some of us actually prefer the purple and red skittles. They have that unique ‘skittley’ taste which you just can’t find anywhere else. Plus berries! Berries are tastier than most citrus fruits. Berries are your friends.

  6. Skittles now come in a variety of flavors. I’ve had the tropical fruit, mint (3 colors), and sour variety.

  7. Why does no one ever record how many skittles are in ONE stupid package of skittles? Why? WHY? I have to know this. Just one regular, normal bag of skittles. The kind you buy at Walmart. Why does NO ONE record online how many stupid skittles are in ONE package??!??!?!!!

    Though, I do appreciate your effort with the 16-ounce bag.

  8. The bag sizes vary. Just figure on 25 skittles per ounce, and you’re good.

  9. as something of a skittle fanatic, i just have to point out that whilst your hatred of grape flavoured skittles is well justified, purple skittles in some other areas are not grape flavoured. in england, purple skittles are godlike overly sweet blackcurrant flavour. and dont believe the lies, the blackcurrant and grape taste nothing alike. nothing. nothing at ALL. okay? good. geez. nothing

  10. I love the red skittles! I even said in High School that I was going to marry the man who gave me a jar of red skittles! I am now recently engaged, and my boyfriend remembered what I had said years ago, and proposed with a bag of just red skittles! He did have to pick them all out on his own, so now I am wondering if anyone knows if there is anywhere that I can get just red skittles in bulk?

  11. i think that the pics are cool && if you got the different flavors liks sour && tropical that it would have been neeter!!

  12. I agree, skittles can be a great way of teaching probability and how to use money. Amy asked if anyone knew where she could get only red skittles in bulk, and I too have looked for a way to buy skittles color separated, but I don’t think they can be bought that way. Soo you just have to sort them out and trade people. =)

  13. I agree. Skittles are a great thing to eat and are acctually very nutricional, as well as natural. I mean, after all they do come from the rainbow and all and are harvested by farmers who carry around their buckets.

  14. I absolutly love red skittles too, the only thing i dont get is why the call them strawberry, they obviously taste like cherry instead. They taste nothing like strewberry.

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  16. You are wrong, The red ones are best, followed by Purple, Orange, Green and Yellow, everyone knows that. Also I have done this though years of college and found that Skittles and M&Ms occur on average in equally distributed amounts. Reece’s Pieces on the other hand occured with 50% Orange, and 25% Brown and Yellow.

    And to PADAWAN, I’ve had 54 to 61 Skittles in a regular 2.17 oz bag.

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