What exactly is packed into the ever-elusive White Mystery Airhead? It's a mystery to many. Its lack of color makes it even harder to pinpoint what the flavor is.
If you’re looking for a specific answer, prepare to be disappointed because Airheads’ mystery flavor is a combination of whatever is left over at the factory. Yes, you read that right. This is why the taste of the White Mystery Airhead varies because it's never the same recipe!
What Does It Contain?
Airheads candy bars are available in various flavors, including grape, orange, strawberry, blue raspberry and green apple. A look at Airheads’ ingredients list and it becomes clear that all the original candies are naturally colorless. At the end of the list are the food dyes — Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6 and Yellow 5. The mystery flavor is just the active ingredients without the bright colors.
Why a Mystery Flavor?
Airheads having a mystery flavor may seem like a scheme to pique consumers’ curiosity. Though, a deeper dig into the matter suggests the overall mystery flavor craze has other motivations. An article in Food Science Fusion explains that making these mystery flavors saves time — and essentially money. Factories do not have to shut down their machines to switch between flavors as Airheads’ Mystery Flavor is a hodgepodge of whatever is left over.
History of White Mystery Airheads
Steve Bruner was a Director of Marketing at Perfetti Van Melle when he created Airheads in 1985. According to CandyFavorites.com, Bruner said he was working at the Dutch-based manufacturer’s Kentucky offices when he created the taffy-like candy’s name, concept and look.
Former Airheads’ eAssistant Brand Manager Matt Fenton recalled working for the company in the early '90s when he received a letter from a teenager suggesting they make a mystery flavor. He recounted running a taste test at an elementary school, where students tried fruit punch and the newly created "mystery flavor."
Fenton said he overheard students arguing about what the mystery flavor was. Notably, he heard no mention of its fruit punch counterpart.
Mystery Airheads hit shelves by 1993. Fenton said it quickly became the brand’s most popular flavor.
Other Versions of White Mystery Airheads
The White Mystery Airheads have seen various iterations over the years. In 2017, the Perfetti Van Melle announced it was adding the flavor to its lineup of Airheads Bites. The company said the mini-candies will contain “a surprise mix of five fruity flavors.” To add to the mystery, the flavors would change over time. A year later, the manufacturer said a White Mystery gum would be adding to the lineup.
Other Mystery Flavors
White Mystery Airheads have crossed over into other food industries over the years. In 2016, Taco Bell released its Airheads White Mystery Freeze, which was a slushie that was colorless like its candy counterpart. Company execs told CNBC they hoped the drink has customers discussing what they thought the flavor was online.
In the summer of 2018, 7-Eleven and Perfetti Van Melle collaborated to make White Mystery-flavored premium drinks and push-tube freeze pops. Shopper Marketing reported that the brands ran exclusive sweepstakes that summer to bring attention to the newest Airheads promotion.