In the United States, purple Skittles taste like grapes, or more accurately, artificial grape flavoring. But in Britain, Australia, and other nations, those Skittles are flavored with blackcurrant. In fact, the rest of the world is quite familiar with the berry, which is used for juice, jam, and other products.
Most American mouths have never tasted the sweet yet tart tang of the blackcurrant berry. There’s a big reason for that: in the early 20th century, the growing of blackcurrants was banned on a federal level in the U.S. after legislators discovered that the plants, brought over from Europe, had become vectors for a wood-destroying disease known as white pine blister rust.
During the 1960s, the federal ban on the berry was relaxed in favor of state-by-state jurisdiction, and most states now allow it to be grown. But the damage had already been done—the blackcurrant jams, juices, pastries and cakes that are standard throughout Europe are nowhere to be found stateside.
A few food producers are trying to change that. While American Skittles may stay grape forever, there may be other blackcurrant foods coming to a store near you. Read about them at Atlas Obscura.