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Good Question: What does the “M” on the M&Ms stand for?

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They may melt in your mouth — but that’s not what the M on M&M candies stands for…

A new report from shows the most popular Christmas candy in each state. The survey spoke to some 50,000 customers to determine the favorite holiday candy in each state. In Idaho, at this time of year, the preferred candy of choice is M&Ms.

I think I speak for everyone when I say M&M’s are fantastic. These “melt in your mouth, not in your hand” candies are equally as endearing to the taste buds as they are to pop-culture junkies. They seem to have taken on a life of their own through TV advertisements.

But have you ever wondered why they are called M&M’s? What do those “M’s” stand for? For this week’s Good Question, we give you the story of the M&M, from brown to blue and every color in between.

One day in the 1930s, Forrest Mars observed a group of Spanish Civil War Soldiers eating “chocolate candies encased in a hard, sugary shell.” These “pellets,” as some referred to them, were part of their rations.

It was all quite fascinating to Mars and that’s when an idea came to him — Why not create a candy company of my own!

“In an age when sales of chocolate typically dropped off during summer months due to the lack of air conditioning, Forrest was thrilled by the prospect of developing a product that would be able to resist melting in high temperatures,” according to an article on

When you consider Mars’ dad, Frank, introduced the world to the Milky Way and the Snickers bar, it seems like a logical decision.

So, Mars created his own version of the chocolate pellet, a candy-coated chocolate drop initially (which he only made in brown). Once the confection was ready, he thought What I need is a merging of the minds.

He presented his new creation to Brent Murrie at the Hershey Corporation (the leader in candy production at the time). Apparently, Mars had inherited the candy-making gene because Murrie was sold on the new chocolate candy.

Mars and Murrie formed a partnership and it wasn’t long before the M&M was born (because of the letters of their last names). Though, Murrie eventually left the company, which is why there is only one “M” imprinted on the candy.

In the beginning they were distributed to the troops overseas during World War II, but their popularity took off and they were soon a nationwide hit.

The year 1954 was a landmark year for the M&M. That was the year the tiny “M” imprinted on each candy was changed from black to white. The animated characters first appeared in TV commercials along with the new slogan: “The milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” The peanut M&M was also introduced in 1954.

In 1976, the orange M&M came along after previously only being available in brown, yellow, green, red and tan. It would be another 19 years before consumers would elect blue as the new color to replace tan.

Forrest Mars is credited as saying “I’m not a candy-maker, I’m empire minded. I want to conquer the whole world.”

Mars, Inc. the company that created the M&M is a $20 billion industry and produces 400 million chocolate candies every day. Eighteen years after Mars’ death, product lines include Caramel M&M’s, M&M’s Mega, and Pretzel M&M’s. Mars, Inc. has surpassed Hershey as the world’s leading candy producer and is one of the most widely distributed candy brands in the world.

Calling it an empire would be an understatement.

By the way, the second and third favorite Christmas candy in Idaho is Hershey Kisses and Jolly Ranchers.


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