Milk Chocolate M&M's
Type Candy
Owner Mars, Incorporated
Country United States
Introduced 1941
Related brands Minstrels, Revels, Skittles, Treets
Markets Worldwide (over 100 countries)[1]
Website http://www.mms.com/

M&M's (named after the surnames of Forrest Mars, Sr., & Bruce Murrie of Hershey's[2]) are dragée-like "colorful button-shaped candies"[1] produced by Mars, Incorporated. The candy shells, each of which has the letter "m" printed in lower case on one side, surround a variety of fillings, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, crisped rice, mint chocolate, peanuts, almonds, orange chocolate, coconut, pretzel, wild cherry, and peanut butter. M&M's originated in the United States in 1941, and are now sold in over 100 countries.[1] They are produced in different colors, some of which have changed over the years.



Plain/Milk Chocolate M&M's

1930s and 1940s

Forrest Mars, Sr., the 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.[3] 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 one for Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey's Chocolate president William F. R. Murrie.[4] 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.[5] When operations were started, the hard-coated chocolates were made in five colors: red, yellow, brown, green, and violet. They were served in a cardboard tube (similar to Smarties).[6][7]

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.[6]

Peanut M&M's, introduced in 1954.

1950s and 1960s

In 1950, a black "M" was imprinted on the candies. It was changed to white in 1954.[6]

In the early 1950s, the Midwest Research Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, working for M&M's, perfected a process where by 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg) of chocolate centers could be coated every hour.[8] Peanut M&M's were introduced in 1954, but first appeared only in the color tan. In 1960, Peanut M&M's added the yellow, red, green, and orange colors.

1970s and 1980s

Red candies were eliminated in 1976[9] due to health concerns over the dye amaranth (FD&C Red #2), which was a suspected carcinogen, and were replaced with orange-colored candies. This was done despite the fact that M&M's did not contain the dye; the action was purely to satisfy worried consumers. Red candies were reintroduced later, 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 is not recommended for consumption by children. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Norway.[10] Instead, Cochineal (E120) is used in the red shells.

In 1980, M&M's were introduced internationally to Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.[11]

Although they were marketed and then withdrawn in the 1960s, in 1988, almond-centered M&M's hit stores again in limited release, with appearances only during Christmas and Easter times; they became a standard part of the product line in 1992.

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 and candle symbols on red and green shells. By 1993, the holiday symbols were replaced with the trademark "M".


In 1990, Mars Snackfood US signed up to be a sponsor for NASCAR. Drivers for the M&M car through the years have included Ernie Irvan, Ken Schrader, Eliott Sadler, Ricky Rudd, David Gilliland and Kyle Busch.

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 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, for one game, swapped their trademark dark blue guernseys for pale blue guernseys — their first change since the early 20th century.[12])

Red and Yellow, two of M&M's "spokescandies"
The Green "spokescandy"
The Blue "spokescandy"

Concurrent with the Blue M&M campaign, M&M's introduced computer animated "spokescandies" in their television commercials. These include the team of the cynical and sardonic "Red" (originally voiced by Jon Lovitz, thereafter Billy West) who is the mascot for milk chocolate M&M's, and the happy and gullible "Yellow" (originally John Goodman, thereafter J.K. Simmons), who is the mascot for peanut M&M's. Other mascots include the "cool one", Blue (Phil Hartman, thereafter Robb Pruitt); the seductive Green (Cree Summer) (Green is the only female M&M's mascot); and the slightly neurotic Orange (Eric Kirchberger) for crispy and pretzel M&M's.

In 1996, Mars introduced "M&M's Minis", smaller candies usually sold in plastic tubes instead of bags.[citation needed] A video game, M&M's: The Lost Formulas, was also eventually released, based on this candy. It was released on September 28, 2000.

In 1998, M&M's became "The Official Candy of the New Millennium", since MM is the roman numeral for 2000. A year later, 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. They are still available in Europe, Australia, and southeast Asia.

In 1990, an M&M's 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&M's 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 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 Regis Philbin "interviewed" her and affirmed the nutritional value of milk chocolate.[13]


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[14][15].

In July 2001, Dulce de Leche M&M's were introduced in five markets with large Hispanic populations: Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Miami, FL, Mcallen-Brownsville, TX, and San Antonio, TX.[16] 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.[17] The flavor was widely panned for containing 36 grams of fat per serving.[18]

In 2002, Mars solicited votes in their first ever "M&M's Global Color Vote" to add a new color from three choices: aqua (turquoise), pink, and purple. This time, purple won and was featured for a limited time.[7]

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".[19] Released around Christmas, these custom-printed M&M's were originally intended for holiday greetings, but are now available all year round.

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 after a string of Addams Family M&M's commercials.

In May 2004, M&M's ran a Shrek 2 promotion to tie in with the movie's release. M&M's were offered "ogre-sized" (65% larger) in swamp/ogre colors. They were sold at many stores displayed in huge cardboard cutout ogre displays.

In the summer of 2005, Mars added "Mega M&M's" to the lineup.[20] These candies, at 55% larger than the traditional M&M's, were a little smaller than the ogre-sized version. They were available in milk chocolate and peanut varieties. The colors for Mega M&M's were changed to less-bright colors – teal (replacing green), beige (orange), maroon (red), gold (yellow), blue-gray (blue), and brown to appeal to a more adult consumer.


Outside of the M&M store in Times Square, New York City.

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 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.[citation needed]

Also in 2006, M&M's became the official chocolate of NASCAR.

In 2007, M&M's introduced a limited-edition raspberry flavor called "M&M's Razzberry Chocolate Candies."[citation needed]

Also in 2007, M&M's produced a 50-foot, smiling Lady Liberty M&M statue to kick off a campaign encouraging Americans to create their own M&M characters at mms.com. The website allows for people to log in and create their own character from scratch. They choose everything from the color and shape to hair and accessories.

For the 2008 Valentine's Day season Mars introduced all-green bags of M&M's. This was due to common urban folklore that says green M&M's are an aphrodisiac.[21] They were brought back for 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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 at mymms.com.[citation needed]

In February 2009, M&M's launched the "M&M’s Colour Break-Up" promotion in Australia where M&M's were sold in separate packs (one for each color): the packs included a code to win prizes.[22]

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," which became a permanent item in 2010.

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.[23]

In April 2010, M&M's launched a new pretzel variety. Pretzel M&M's do not have any yellow M&M's.[24]

In early 2010, M&M's Bare All were released as part of a competition in Australia and New Zealand.[25] M&M's Bare All winning packs were ordinary M&M's, but without shells (and hence had no colours). An official website, http://m-msbareall.com.au/, was launched, along with television advertisements.[26]

About the time pretzel M&M'S came out, the M&M'S wrapper designs in the U.S. were redone, from the old design, used from 2004-early 2010.

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 filling 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.


Related brands

Related candy brands from Mars include Minstrels, Revels, Skittles, and Treets; similar products from other companies include Smarties, Pebbles and several products from The Hershey Company: Hershey's Drops, Reese's Pieces, Hershey's Dark Chocolate Pieces, York Pieces, Almond Joy Pieces and the long-discontinued Hershey-ets. Similar candies are used as an ingredient in some brands of trail mix.

M&M's World specialty shops have been established in some locations. Several M&Ms-themed video games have been created.


  1. ^ a b c M&M's candy fades to black and white, a December 30, 2003 Reuters article via USA Today
  2. ^ Inventor of the Week Archive
  3. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Archive". Web.mit.edu. http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/mars.html. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ Murrie, William F.R.; 1873–1950 - hersheyarchives.com - Retrieved January 22, 2011
  5. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Archive". Web.mit.edu. http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/mars.html. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "Looking Back at Newark Origins of World-Famous M&M Chocolates - virtualnewarknj.com - Retrieved August 28, 2008". virtualnewarknj.com. April 12, 1981. http://www.virtualnewarknj.com/memories/newark/bodianmm.htm. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "M&M lovers pick purple". CNNMoney.com (Time Warner). June 20, 2002. http://money.cnn.com/2002/06/20/news/companies/mandms/. Retrieved June 14, 2008. 
  8. ^ "MRI Breakthroughs". Mriresearch.org. September 11, 2001. Archived from the original on July 2, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080702054645/http://www.mriresearch.org/AboutMRI/Breakthroughs.asp. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  9. ^ "The Story of M&M'S Brand". mms.com. Mars, Incorporated. Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080409043530/http://us.mms.com/us/about/history/story/. Retrieved June 14, 2008. 
  10. ^ "E129 Allura Red AC, FD&C Red 40". http://www.ukfoodguide.net/e129.htm. Retrieved June 14, 2008. 
  11. ^ http://www.mms.com/us/about/mmshistory/
  12. ^ "The Clubs". AFL.com.au. http://www.afl.com.au/The%20Clubs/tabid/10297/default.aspx. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Events - M&M Candy Cow". Behindthescenesmarketing.com. http://www.behindthescenesmarketing.com/events-tshws-props/01_cow.html. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  14. ^ http://www.collectorcafe.com/article_archive.asp?article=10&id=1877
  15. ^ "THE MEDIA BUSINESS: ADVERTISING; M&M/Mars concludes, after 46 years, that 'Plain' does not do justice to the original M&M's candy.". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/29/business/media-business-advertising-m-m-mars-concludes-after-46-years-that-plain-does-not.html. Retrieved June 29, 2000. 
  16. ^ "M&M/MARS Woos Latinos With New ``M&M's'' Dulce de Leche-Caramel Chocolate Candies; New Flavor to Premiere in Markets With Highest Concentration of Latinos. | Food & Beverage > Food Industry from". AllBusiness.com. http://www.allbusiness.com/food-beverage/food-industry-food-mfg-sugar/6097035-1.html. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  17. ^ http://www.nuintelligence.net/Manager/anmviewer.asp?a=9[dead link]
  18. ^ "Dulce de Leche M&M's | New York". DailyCandy.com. February 13, 2002. http://www.dailycandy.com/new-york/article/17516/La+Dulce+Vita. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Custom Printed MY M&M'S". mms.com. Mars, Incorporated. http://www.mymms.com/. Retrieved June 14, 2008. 
  20. ^ "M&M's get mega-sized". CNNMoney.com (Time Warner). August 4, 2005. http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/04/news/funny/m_and_ms/. Retrieved June 14, 2008. 
  21. ^ "M&M'S Chocolate Candies go green just in time for Valentine's Day". PRNewswire. January 16, 2008. http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/mars/31278/. Retrieved August 14, 2008. 
  22. ^ "M&M'S Color Break Up". Mars. February 18, 2009. http://www.colourbreakup.com.au/html/default.aspx. Retrieved February 18, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Julie's Health Club: Dye found in blue M&Ms may improve spinal injuries". Featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com. July 28, 2009. http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/features_julieshealthclub/2009/07/can-blue-mms-cure-paralysis.html. Retrieved January 15, 2010. 
  24. ^ "About M&MS®: Products: Pretzel". http://www.m-ms.com/us/about/products/pretzel/. Retrieved March 16, 2011. 
  25. ^ http://m-msbareall.com.au/index.html
  26. ^ M&M's Bare All TV commercial from YouTube

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