-like "colorful button-shaped candies"produced by Mars, Incorporated
. The candy shells
, each of which has the letter "m" printed on one side, surround a variety of fillings, including milk chocolate
, dark chocolate
-flavored chocolate, peanuts
, and peanut butter
. M&M's originated in the United States
in 1941, and are now sold in over 100 countries.
Forrest Mars, Sr.
founder of the Mars Company, got the idea for the confection in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War
when he saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of tempered chocolate surrounding the inside, preventing the candies from melting. Mars received a patent for his own process on March 3, 1941[citation needed
]. Production began in 1941 in a factory located at 285 Badger Avenue in Clinton Hill, Newark, New Jersey
. One M was for Forrest E. Mars Sr., and the other M was for Bruce Murrie, son of long-term Hershey
president William F.R. Murrie.Murrie had 20 percent interest in the product. The arrangement allowed the candies to be made with Hershey chocolate which had control of the rationed
chocolate. When operations were started, the hard-coated chocolates were made in five different colors: brown, yellow, red, green, and violet. They were served in a cardboard tube (similar to Smarties
The practicality of the candies during World War II
caused an increase in production and its factory moved to bigger quarters at 200 North 12th Street in Newark, New Jersey
where they remained until 1958 when it moved to a bigger factory at Hackettstown, New Jersey
. During the War the candies were exclusively sold to the military.
In 1948 the cardboard packaging was replaced by the black cellophane
packaging. In the same year Mars bought out Murrie's 20 percent stake.
In 1949, tan replaced violet as one of the six shell colors.
Peanut M&M's, introduced in 1954.
In 1950 a black "M" was imprinted on the candies. It was changed to white in 1954.
In the early 1950s, the Midwest Research Institute
in Kansas City, Missouri
, working for M&M's, perfected a process whereby 3,300pounds (1,500kg) of chocolate centers could be coated every hour.
1970s and 1980s
Red candies were eliminated in 1976 due to health concerns over the dye amaranth
Red #2), which was a suspected carcinogen
, and were replaced with orange-colored candies (this despite the fact that M&M's did not contain the dye; the action was purely to satisfy worried consumers). By 1987, the public had forgotten the scare, and the red candies were reintroduced, but they also kept the orange colored M&M's. They currently contain Allura Red AC
(FD&C Red #40, E129). In Europe, Allura Red AC
(E129) is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Norway. Instead, Cochineal
(E120) is used in the red shells.
Although they were marketed and then withdrawn in the 1960s, in 1988, Almond M&M's hit stores again in limited release, with appearances only during Christmas
times. These candies are much like the peanut variety, but with an almond instead of a peanut inside the candy. Due to rising popularity, Mars gave them full releases in 1992.
] 1990s In 1990, Peanut Butter M&M's were released. These candies have peanut butter
inside the chocolate center and the same color scheme as the other brands.
In 1995, Mars ran a promotion in which consumers were invited to vote on which of blue, pink, or purple would replace the tan M&M's. Blue was the winner, replacing tan in early 1995. Consumers could vote by calling 1-800-FUN-COLOR. (The introduction of blue M&M's to Australia in 1997 was controversially promoted by the Carlton Football Club
of the Australian Football League
(AFL) who swapped their trademark dark blue guernseys
for pale blue guernseys—their first change since the early 20th century.)
Concurrent with the Blue M&M campaign, M&M's replaced their earlier kid-friendly and generic animated characters with computer animated "spokescandies"
in their commercials
. These include the team of the cynical
" (originally Jon Lovitz
, thereafter Billy West
), who is the mascot for milk chocolate M&M's, and the happy
" (originally John Goodman
, thereafter J.K. Simmons
), who is the mascot for peanut M&M's. Other mascots include the "cool one", Blue (originally Phil Hartman
, thereafter Robb Pruitt
) for almond; the seductive
Green (Cree Summer
) for peanut butter, mint, and dark chocolate (Green is the only female M&M's mascot); and the slightly neurotic
Orange (Eric Kirchberger
) for other types of M&M's in general, who was initially not named after his color (for a time when he was introduced, he was known as Crispy due to his being a mascot for the now-discontinued Crispy M&M's, which debuted around the same time).
In 1996, Mars introduced a new M&M's candy: the "M&M's Minis". These candies are very small and are usually sold in small plastic tubes instead of bags. A video game, M&M's: The Lost Formulas
, was also eventually released, based on this candy.
In 1999, Crispy M&M's were released. They were slightly larger than the milk chocolate variety and featured a crispy rice center. They were discontinued in the United States in 2005, but they are still available in Europe, Australia, and southeast Asia.
In 1990, an M&Ms exhibit at New York's Erie County Fair, promoting the company's nutrition awareness campaign, became the precursor to Cow Parade, the whimsical phenomenon where municipalities and museums display decorated cattle at convenient traffic intersections. The M&Ms display was a life size fiberglass cow covered with 66,000 M&M candies, each adhered by hand with the "m" logo on each candy facing outward. Candy the Cow was the first-ever decorated bovine, and earned M&M Mars $1 million in free publicity. The chocolate marvel, created by designer Michael Adams, was reported on as news by Newsweek Magazine ("udderly amazing") as well as the New York Post, UPI and WABC TV. Candy then appeared as a live "guest" on "Live with Regis," where millionaire man Regis Philbin "interviewed" her and affirmed the nutritional value of milk chocolate.
In 2000, "Plain" M&M's (a name introduced in 1954 when Peanut M&M's were introduced) were renamed "Milk Chocolate" M&M's, and pictures of the candy pieces were added to the traditional brown and white packaging.
In July 2001, caramel-filled Dulce de Leche
M&M's were introduced in 5 markets with large Hispanic populations: Los Angeles, CA
, San Diego, CA
, Miami, FL
, and San Antonio, TX
The flavor never became popular with the Hispanic community, who preferred existing M&M's flavors, and it was discontinued in most areas by early 2003. The flavor was widely panned for containing 36 grams of fat per serving.
In 2002, Mars solicited votes to add a new color from three choices: aqua, pink, and purple. This time, purple won and was featured for a limited time.
Also in 2004, My M&M's opened its web site doors <http://www.mymms.com
>. People were able to personalize M&M's in 17 color options. In the time since, they have expanded the site to handle various customization and gifting options.
In April 2005, M&M's ran the "mPire" promotion to tie in with the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
movie release. M&M's were offered in dark chocolate varieties (Regular and Peanut) for the first time.
In the summer of 2005, Mars added "Mega M&M's" to the lineup. These candies are 55% larger than the traditional M&M's and are available in milk chocolate and peanut varieties. Most of the colors for Mega M&M's were also changed to less-bright colors — teal (replacing green), beige (orange), maroon (red), gold (yellow), blue-gray (blue), and brown — to appeal more to adults. In the fall of 2005, the mPire promotion ran again to coincide with the DVD release of the Star Wars
Since 2005 M&M's have been available online in 17 colors, with personalized phrases on each candy on the opposite side from the "m". Released around Christmas, these custom-printed M&M's were originally intended for holiday greetings, but are now available all year round
In July 2006, Dark Chocolate M&M's reappeared in a purple package, followed in 2007 by Dark Chocolate Peanut M&M's. Also in 2006, the company also piloted White Chocolate M&M's as a tie-in with their Pirates of the Caribbean
promotion. The company also offered eight new flavors of M&M's via online sales, as well as at M&M's World
locations: "All That Razz"; "Eat, Drink, & Be Cherry"; "A Day at the Peach"; "Orange-U-Glad"; "Mint Condition"; "AlmonDeeLicious"; "Nut What You Think" and "Cookie Minster". Mars also released a "Crispy Mint" variety in Australia that year.
In 2007, M&M's introduced a limited-edition raspberry flavor called "M&M's Razzberry Chocolate Candies."
During the 2008 Valentine's Day season Mars introduced bags of all-green M&M's. This was due to common urban folklore that holds green M&M's to be an aphrodisiac
. They were brought back for Valentine's Day 2009 alongside the "Ms. Green Heats Up Valentine's Day" contest.
In 2008, two new limited-edition varieties of the candy were introduced — "Wildly Cherry" M&M's, and, as a marketing tie-in with the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
, "Mint Crisp" M&M's.
M&M's also introduced another new product called "M&M's Premiums" in 2008. They come in five flavors — chocolate almond, mint chocolate, mocha, raspberry almond and triple chocolate (milk, dark, and white chocolate), which are sold in small upright cartons with a plastic bag inside. M&M's Premiums do not have a candy shell, but are coated with carnauba wax and color. Dark Chocolate was added in 2009, replacing Mocha.
During summer of 2008, My M&M's launched 'Faces,' which allows consumers to print the faces of loved ones on M&M's chocolate candies.
In January 2009, three new "shimmering" colors were added to the list of custom printable colors. The colors in this collection have a pearlescent
finish. In February 2009, M&M's launched "M&M’S Color Break-Up" Promotion in Australia where colors were sold in separate packs (one for each color): the packs included a code to win prizes.
In Summer 2009, M&M's launched a limited-edition "Strawberried Peanut Butter" variant to tie in with the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
. In addition, M&M's launched a limited edition "Coconut M&M's."
In July 2009, a study showed that a dye similar to that in blue M&M's showed benefits in helping paralyzed rats to walk again.
Color changes in chocolate M&M's The following is a summary of the changes to the colors of the flagship (milk chocolate
) flavor of M&M's, the only flavor manufactured since the beginning of the brand. From 1941 until 1987, each package contained M&M's in five different colors; when red M&M's were reintroduced in 1987, they were added as a sixth color instead of replacing any of the existing colors.