Ducks 'n a Row: The Delicious History of M&M's

27 October 2014

The Delicious History of M&M's

By Sinea Pies

Can you remember a time when there weren't M&M's®? I can't! As a child, mom would ration out a few to me, and a few to my brother, and we'd examine the various colors to decide which ones to eat first. And we'd check each other's to make sure nobody got more reds. Reds were our favorite. You'd think that the colors tasted different, the way we'd select them so carefully. 

We'd even test whether they truly "melted in our mouths and not in our hands" and soon found out why that was so true --- who could wait long enough to get it to melt in their hand? Not me!

HISTORY OF COLORS: They weren't always a bevy of color. The very first M&M's® were brown. The original brown candies were printed with a black letter "M" on each one, soon thereafter to be changed to white lettering. Colors weren't added until 1960 when Peanut M&M's, formerly a tan color, came out along with yellow, green and red.

Interesting note about RED M&M's®. In 1976, the Mars Company voluntarily took red M&M's® off the market in response to public concern about foods that were colored red. A dye called Red Dye #2 was widely used as food coloring. It had been found to cause cancer. Even though red M&M's® did not have Red Dye#2, it was considered prudent to stop making them rather than losing public confidence and, therefore, candy sales. Guess which color was introduced to replace it? Orange! (Thankfully a very safe red is back -- as I've said, red was always my favorite!)

BIRTH DATE: And just how old are these historic candies? M&M's® have been around for a long time. The first concept came to Forest Mars Sr. during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). He observed soldiers eating small morsels of chocolate, covered in a hard shell to keep them from melting in the heat. Struck by the idea, he and a friend took the concept and produced a candy shaped like a small round button.

A Biographical Sketch of the Great M&M's®

As we said, M&M’s® were the brainchild of Forest Mars, Sr. He was the founder of the Mars Company.

Production of the hard-shell chocolate candies began in 1941 in Newark, New Jersey. The name of the candy was inspired by Mr. Mars’ last name along with the “M” in Bruce Murrie’s name. Murrie, son of the president of the Hershey Chocolate Co., partnered with Mars in the project. Thus, each candy was marked with the letter "M".

A brief timeline of the life of M&M’s®: 

  • 1941 M&M’s® were born in 1941. These nifty little candies were packaged in tubes and distributed to American servicemen overseas. M & M's have a long, proud heritage!
  • 1948 The tube was exchanged for the classic brown paper envelope that we are familiar with today.
  • 1954 The slogan “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” was introduced. So were Peanut M&M's®
  • 1960 Peanut M&M's® became a colorful yellow, green and red.
  • 1976 Red M&M's® took a 10 year vacation. Orange M&M’s® came on the scene.
  • 1981 M&M's company rejects offer to be featured in a film. E.T.! Whoops! See article below.
  • 1982 M&M’s became the official candy of the Space Shuttle.
  • 1995 Blue M&M’s®? What will they think of next!
  • 2002 By popular demand, purple was created as an M&M® color.
  • 2004 Personalized M&M’s® became a reality via MyMM’

Recipes Made With M&M's
 Just eat them out of the bag or bake with them. Baked goods look so nice when decked out with colorful M&M® candies!

M&M Novelties & Gifts
M&M's® have been part of celebrations almost from their inception. They are frequent stocking-stuffers at Christmastime, given as colorful filling in decorative jars, offered in candy dishes at parties, used to decorate desserts, and have inspired distinctive keepsakes such as M&M's coffee mugs, t-shirts, computer desk lights, collectibles and unique candy dispensers.

HOLIDAY M&M's® can be found seasonally.  Green & red for Christmas, pink & red for Valentine's Day and pastels for Easter.

Personalized M&M's®

For a special treat, M&M's® can be personalized. The possibilities are endless as you express your love, even your humor, on each wonderful candy shell. Stop by My M&M's and check out their great ideas!

Teach Math With Them
Yes, M&M's can be used to teach counting, sets, graphing and more. So many possibilities that there is even a book written about it!

Love M&M's ?

What are your favorite M&M memories? 

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Note: This author is an Amazon affiliate. Anything purchased from Amazon through Ducks 'n a Row will result in a small commission for me. In advance, "Thank you"  ... Sinea

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