When a flatbed pickup truck carrying a large box of red Skittles spilled its contents on a Wisconsin road last week, it brought to light a bigger issue—the candy’s destination.
On Tuesday, January 17, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook that they found hundreds of thousands of red Skittles covering a county highway. Mars, the candy’s parent company, confirmed that the Skittles were not going to be packaged and sold because they were missing the classic letter ‘S’ marking each piece of candy.
Instead, the sheriff’s office said the candy was going to be added to feed for cattle, a practice that Eater says has been going on for decades.
The Skittles on the truck in Wisconsin ended up on the ground because rain soaked the box they were in, causing it to give way. The sheriff’s office was brought in to help clean up the mess, and Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt told CNN affiliate WISN that the candy’s distinct smell helped them identify what it was.
In 2012, Reuters reported that corn alternatives were in high demand in places where feed corn for cattle was becoming very expensive or unavailable. Using an alternative like candy could yield a savings of 10 to 50 percent for cattle farm operators, though prices for corn alternatives then began to increase as well.
Eater’s article also investigates whether a livestock diet that has candy mixed into it is healthy for cattle. While Marilyn Noble of the American Grassfed Association said in a Marketplace article that “cows were meant to eat grass, not candy,” John Waller, a University of Tennessee animal nutrition professor, said in a Live Science article a candy-based diet for cattle is fine and also helps the environment by reducing the amount of candy waste that ends up in landfills.