The history of m &m’s

Sam Joy, Editor

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Did you know that there are over 400 million M&M’s made every day, all over the world? Did you know that M&M’s weren’t invented for somebody to hand out on Halloween? No? Well, you’re going to find out why they actually were invented and how they’ve changed over the years. M&M’s were created by Forrest Mars, Sr., son of the Mars Company founder, Frank C. Mars copied the idea for the candy in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War when he saw soldiers eating British made Smarties, chocolate pellets with a colored shell of what bakers call hard panning (essentially hardened sugar syrup) surrounding the outside, preventing the candies from melting.

The candy-coated chocolate concept was inspired by a method used to allow soldiers to carry chocolate without having it melt. The company’s longest-lasting slogan reflects this: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” Mars received a patent for his own process on March 3, 1941. Production began in 1941 in a factory located in Newark, New Jersey. When the company was founded it was M&M Limited. The two “Ms” represent the names of Forrest E. Mars Sr., the founder of Newark Company, and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey Chocolate’s president William F. R. Murrie. The arrangement allowed the candies to be made with Hershey chocolate, as Hershey had control of the rationed chocolate at the time. The demand for the candy during World War II caused an increase in production and its factory moved to bigger place, where it stayed until 1958 when it moved to a bigger factory at Hackettstown.

During the war, the candies were exclusively sold to the military. In 1950, a black “M” was imprinted on the candies giving them a unique trademark. Later, it was changed to white we know in 1954. Peanut M&M’s were introduced later in 1954 but first appeared only in the color tan. They were debuted at the same time as the tagline “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” In 1960, M&M’s added the yellow, red, and green colors. In 1976, orange was added to the M&M rainbow to replace red, which was discontinued due to the red dye scare over Red Dyes #2 and #4 having been evaluated to be carcinogenic in nature. In spite of the fact that M&M’s had used the less controversial Red Dye #40, the public was wary of any food being dyed red. Red M&M’s were re-introduced in 1987.

In the 1980s, M&M’s were introduced internationally to Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. Also in 1986, M&M’s launched Holidays Chocolate Candies for Easter and Christmas, with the Easter candies having bunny, chick, and egg symbols on pastel-colored shells, and the Christmas candies having pine tree, bell, and candle symbols on red and green shells; with the latter also having a special mint flavor. By 1993, the holiday symbols were replaced with the standard trademark “M”. In 1991, Peanut Butter M&M’s were released. These candies have peanut butter inside the chocolate center and the same color scheme as the other varieties.

In 1995, tan M&Ms were discontinued to be replaced by blue. In 1996, Mars introduced “M&M’s Minis”, smaller candies usually sold in plastic tubes instead of bags. In 1999, Crispy M&M’s were released. They were slightly larger than the milk chocolate variety and also featured a crispy wafer center. In July 2001, Dulce de Leche M&M’s were introduced in five markets with large Hispanic populations. 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. In 2010, Pretzel M&M’s were released. They contain a crunchy, salty pretzel center inside of the chocolate coating and are about the same size as the Peanut M&M’s, but their shape tends to be more spherical. In 2013, the M&M’s chocolate bar was re-released. It was originally released in 2004 and named M-Azing. In 2014, Mega M&M’s were re-introduced. Before then, the ‘Mega M&M’s’ had been released in 2007 promoting the Shrek Movies, being dubbed “Ogre-Sized M&M’s”. Also in 2016, the M&M’s flavor vote was created in which the fans could vote for either honey, coffee, or chili nut M&M’s to go with peanut M&M’s. Coffee Nuts was announced as the winner. In April 2017, M&M’s chocolate blocks went on sale in Australia. Six varieties (milk chocolate, strawberry, crispy, hazelnut, crispy mint and almond) are available. Also in 2017, Caramel M&M’s were released in the United States. There you have it. Everything up to today, all the way from 1941, where it was started for our troops.

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