Happy National M&Ms Day (did you know…?)

Today is National M&Ms Day! I did a little research and learned some interesting things about M&Ms.

History of M&Ms

The milk chocolate candies were introduced in the U.S. in 1941. The son of the owner of the Mars company (Forrest Mars) teamed up with the son of an executive at the Hershey company (William Murrie) to produce M&Ms to meet the wartime chocolate needs of the military. Mr. Mars invented M&Ms after observing British soldiers eating a sugar-coated candy made by Rowntree & Co. called Smarties. He noted that the candies did not melt in the summer heat. Smarties had been around in Europe since the 1880s. (Smarties in Ameria, of course, are not made of chocolate).

In addition to being less messy, candy-coated chocolate was a good idea because the manufacturers expected shortages of chocolate during the war. They packaged M&Ms in a little cardboard tube, which made them convenient for solders to carry. 

M&Ms were so popular, other U.S. candymakers began to imitate them, just as Forrest Mars immitated Smarties. So the manufacturers began stamping their candies with m’s. The m’s used to be black. They changed the color of the m’s on the candies to white in 1954, the same year they released the peanut ones.

A Colorful Candy

M&Ms now come in 17 custom colors. The original colors were brown, green, yellow, red and violet. In the late 1940s, they changed the violet ones to tan. Remember tan M&mMs? They were around until 1995 then they were changed to blue ones. Orange was added in 1976 and red ones were dropped for about ten years because people believed the red dye caused cancer.

Did you know

  • M&M stands for “Mars” and “Murrie?” Those are the men that developed the candy.
  • M&Ms is America’s third favorite Halloween candy, after Reeses cups and Snickers candy bars?
  • When peanut M&Ms came out, they were all tan? In 1960, they started making them in yellow, green and red, as well.
  • People used to joke that green M&Ms were an aphrodisiac?
  • The voice of Ms. Brown (M&Ms character) is none other than the actress, Vanessa Williams?
  • Every President since 1988 has been presented with a special box of red, white and blue M&Ms?
  • M&Ms could have been E.T.’s favorite candy? The candy company turned down the offer to be in the movie. The popularity of Hershey’s Reeses Pieces skyrocketed after the movie’s release.

Lots of Flavors

M&Ms come in many flavors now. For a long time, when I was growing up, the choices of M&Ms were milk chocolate or peanut. I remember it was hard to choose because the peanut ones were delicious but it seemed like you got “more” candy with the plain ones.

Then in the early 1980s, the first flavor variation (after the 1954 peanut) of mint chocolate came out. This was followed by almond M&Ms. In 1991, peanut butter M&Ms were released.

And then it just got crazy! M&Ms produced many limited release flavors. Here are some of the more unusual varieties:

  • Gingerbread
  • Orange Vanilla Cream (only sold at Dollar General)
  • Peanut Brittle (only sold at Target)
  • Strawberried Peanut Butter
  • Tres Leches
  • Chili Nut
  • Red Velvet
  • White Chocolate Carrot Cake
  • and many more!

New 2020 Flavors

Maybe you saw the promotions for “Fudge Brownie” M&Ms this past spring? The M&Ms, in the colors red, yellow, green and blue, were released in April.

“Chocolate Popcorn” (white rice crispy center), in yellow, white and brown colors, was released in July.

“Sugar Cookie” will be released in November. This flavor of M&Ms features a white chocolate and sugar cookie flavored shell with a crispy, cookie-like center in the Christmas colors of red, white and green. Leave some out for Santa Claus!

Limited Release Flavors For 🍁Fall🍁 and 🎃 Halloween 🎃 

Some familiar limited release flavors will return to store shelves, including

  • “Creepy Cocoa Crisp” has a crispy cocoa center and lining of dark chocolate. The colors are red, orange and brown. 
  • “White Candy Corn” features a white chocolate shell with a candy corn flavored center. The colors are white, orange and yellow. 
  • “White Pumpkin Pie” is a Classic Fall Flavor that features a white shell and a creamy pumpkin pie flavored center and is marketed as a Thanksgiving treat.

Have you tried any of the limited edition flavors?

Will you celebrate National M&Ms day today? Tell me your plans 😊

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. Her blogs include Autumn in Virginia, Cool Yule Blog and You Can't Make This Stuff Up, among others. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.
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