America’s smokers have spoken: Runtz is the United States’ 2020 Leafly Strain of the Year! All across the nation, this fresh hybrid won over the masses with its gorgeous trichomes, phenomenal aroma, and potent effects. As the lovechild of two other award-winning strains, Runtz consistently rose in popularity and acclaim since it debuted in December 2017. It claims the throne after Leafly’s independent review process that includes search trends, product availability, awards, and expert analysis. Buy Runtz weed Let’s dig into what makes 2020 the year of Runtz! Jump to a section The experience of Runtz runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 Runtz checks each box and tears up the scorecard. (Photos by Kandid Kush for Leafly) In order to give Runtz our 2020 title, we must start at the most important part: the experience of it. In southern Humboldt County, CA, longtime cannabis cultivator Jason Gellman is the founder of Ridgeline Farms–which took an Emerald Cup in 2019 for Runtz. He’ll always grow a greenhouse of the cultivar, he said. “Growing this day and age, you look for three things: You want the look, you want the smell, and you want the taste,” says Gellman. Runtz checks each box and tears up the scorecard. runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 (Kandid Kush for Leafly) Gellman refers to the smell of Runtz as something “like no other strain I’ve ever grown,” and describes its aroma as a syrupy berry cream with plenty of gassy notes. The color? Purple and pink in the summer, with shades that go as deep as black-purple in the fall. “It looks amazing, it smells like candy, grapes, and gas.” Ridgeline Farms owner, grower Jason Gellman, southern Humboldt County, CA “With Runtz, it looks amazing, it smells like candy, grapes, and gas, and you smoke it and it tastes just like it smells, which is [actually] kind of unusual,” he says. The sedative effects of this hybrid lean more toward an indica, with a flavor similar to Gelato, according to LitHouse, a family-owned coastal cannabis operation in Mendocino County, California. It comes with a heavy body high and strong chill vibes. It doesn’t jolt you with too much THC; rather, it wraps you in a thick, relaxing aroma. runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 (Leafly) The origin of Runtz runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 A multi-million dollar field of White Runtz and Pink Runtz finishes in summer 2020 in southern Humboldt County, CA, at award-winning Ridgleline Farms. (Redwood Country Photography for Leafly) It’s hard to track Runtz’s roots and hammer down its exact lineage, but it’s widely considered to be a cross between Gelato and Zkittlez. Gelato won Leafly’s Strain of the Year in 2018—a deliciously sweet, creamy blend of Thin Mint GSC and Sherbert. Runtz’s other parent, Zkittlez, is a mouthwatering hybrid darling reportedly created by breeding Grape Ape and Grapefruit. Treat yourself to some Runtz If the lineage rumors are true, it’s clear that someone took the best of the decade-old Cookies craze and added the exotic, new award winner Zkittlez to catch the world’s attention. “Zkittlez cleaned up the Emerald Cup [in 2018] and then what won last year? Runtz,” says Gellman. runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 Runtz comes from an award-winning (and delicious) lineage. (Leafly) According to the international lifestyle brand Cookies, the original Runtz genetics focused on its purple candy taste, bag appeal, aroma, and flavor. The expertly engineered strain—combined with Cookies’ masterful marketing push—became a self-fulfilling prophecy. “I knew Runtz would work,” says Berner, rapper, entrepreneur, and co-founder of the Cookies brand. “One of the owners, Ray, came up around me and understands the recipe that made Cookies what it is. [Runtz crew co-leader Rapper Yung] LB put in lots of time on the road and in the studios, where campaigning and hard work, dedication, and solid marketing created a crazy wave.” runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 (Leafly) The impact of Runtz “It’s not different than Alexander Wang droppin’ a shirt. Or Supreme. We’re like that of the weed. If you want cheap weed, you can go get you a $5 Footlong, you can go smoke some Blue Dream, some Green Crack. If you want to eat Ruth’s Chris [Steak House], you can go get some Cookies, Gelato, Lemoncello, and Runtz; things of that flavor. There’s levels of it. And we do not discriminate, it’s just setting the tone. It’s just like going shopping for clothes.” —Yung LB With just three years on the market, Runtz reached phenomenal heights. But a great cultivar is nothing without consumer awareness and large-scale cultivation to fill millions of smoky bowls. Runtz’s story illustrates that winning combo. According to Cookies, Runtz came from the Runtz crew of “Ray, Nick, and Yung LB” by 2017. These three original “Cookies Boyz” had always hyped the Cookies brand. “LB, Ray, and Nick used the recipe Berner spoke about to build their own platform to launch Runtz,” says the company Cookies. “The credibility the Runtz crew had, due to their connection with Berner, helped to give them a foothold in cannabis, entertainment, and fashion.” runtz, zkittlez, gelato, leafly strain of the year, 2020 Runtz upped the culture. (Courtesy @neroscutt on Instagram) Indeed, Long Beach-based rapper Yung LB first debuted the hype strain at the highly influential Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa, CA, in December 2017. The California trademark was filed in early 2018. The name “Runtz” is a nod to the plant’s yield, nug size, and its Zkittlez roots. A greenhouse of Runtz yields about 30% lower than the average strain, says Ridgeline’s Gellman. “It is a bummer you don’t get as much yield out of it, but… everybody wants it. It’s not a slow grower, but you won’t get giant colas out of Runtz. You will get the name Runtz. That’s how it grows—in nice little chunks.” The support of over 100 rap songs California’s adult-use cannabis sales launched on January 1, 2018, and Runtz’s reputation had already started heating up. Search traffic for Runtz had picked up by the middle of 2018 and knowing ears started to hear it in dozens of rap songs. Yung LB’s catchphrase “Runtz up yo life!” became a way of life, and fans of exotic weed and hip-hop continued to ask around about the elusive strain. The illicit market really pushed Runtz in rap songs, and any street vendor can buy counterfeit Runtz packaging from overseas and hide regular old Gelato in a fancy bag. As of today, over 100 rap songs mention the word “Runtz,” according to lyrics website Genius.com. runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 (Leafly) The strain’s boutique Northern California growers could not match Runtz’s demand, and “producing fire cannabis at scale had started to become a challenge,” says Cookies. So in 2018, Cookies added Runtz to their lineup, releasing White Runtz. Now a part of Cookies, White Runtz and “other Runtz cultivars are a core part of the menu and expansion efforts in legal cannabis markets,” Cookies says. Keeping up with popular demand In 2019, trademarks for Runtz vapes and events were filed. Then Ridgeline Farms won the 2019 Emerald Cup with Runtz—out of 700 entrants in 14 categories. A White Runtz took 3rd place that same year, and a Runtz rosin by Kalya Extracts took 7th in Rosins. Emerald Cup judge Nikki Lastreto calls the winning Ridgeline Runtz, “the most beautiful bud I saw in the entire competition. A Boeing 747 that takes you to space.” Since then, demand has only grown bigger. More authentic Runtz in more legal states is on the way in 2021. “As one of the most sought-after brands, Runtz and Cookies are partnering together to ensure authentic, quality products are accessible to consumers within legal markets,” says Cookies in a statement. The winning chemistry of Runtz Yes—Runtz satisfies high-THC smokers. But look to its aromatic molecules—its terpenes—for the real secret recipe. THC powers cannabis’ effects, but terpenes modulate the high, making it multidimensional and deeper rather than a single, short note. Lab tests of Runtz reveal a recipe for success that you see in other hit varieties. The top three terpenes in Runtz lab samples are caryophyllene, limonene, and linalool—shown as magenta, yellow, and purple in our flower graphics. The science of terpenes is in its infancy, but there is still much to point to. runtz, zkittlez, gelato, strain of the year, 2020 (Kandid Kush, Leafly) The main terpene, caryophyllene, seems to act like a chassis, providing the baseline dank, rich vehicle for the gassy, citrusy limonene and the sweet, floral linalool. Caryophyllene is the main terpene of most cannabis—so prevalent, they train drug dogs to recognize it. The second terpene, limonene, often conjures up citrus, but it is also physical, biting, and astringent, creating a gassy, fuel sensation. The third terpene, linalool, is found in lavender; it’s soft and inviting and modulates the first two terpenes. Linalool adds a berry complexity—you see linalool in Blueberry, for example.