Not to be confused with the rapper, M&Ms are among the most beloved, cherished, and historic of American candies. Named after Mars and Murrie, the surnames of Mars Company’s founders, M&Ms were first patented in March 3, 1941. Forrest Mars, Sr., got the idea during the Spanish Civil War, when he saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with hard tempered chocolate shells. When production of M&Ms began in 1941, Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey’s Chocolate president William F.R. Murrie, had 20% interest in the product. This deal was formed because Hershey controlled the chocolate rations during World War II. There were only five colors: red, yellow, brown, green, and violet. We offer all of these M&M candies as Halloween costumes.
- During World War II, M&Ms were made and sold exclusively for soldiers.
- In 1950, the first black “M” was printed on the candies. The coloring was changed to white in 1954.
- In 1954, Peanut M&Ms were first created, and only produced in the color tan. Yellow, red, and green colors were not added until 1960.
- In 1976, red M&Ms were removed due to health concerns involving amaranth, one of the core ingredients in the red dye, which was a suspected carcinogen. They were replaced with the orange-colored M&Ms.
- Red M&Ms returned later, containing Allura Red AC within the dye. Europe recommends that Allura Red AC not to be consumed by children. Allura Red AC is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, and Norway.
- M&Ms went to space for the first time in 1982, and have since been part of all missions.
- In 1990, M&Ms held an exhibit at New York’s Erie County Fair, where they stuck 66,000 M&Ms to a fiberglass cow. Each candy was placed by hand, with the “M” facing outward. This was the first ever decorated bovine, and it appeared in the New York Post, UPI, WABC-TV, and Live with Regis.
- Peanut Butter M&Ms were released in 1991.
- M&Ms Minis were introduced in 1996. They were smaller candies, normally sold inside of plastic tubes. A video game, M&Ms: The Lost Formulas, was released in September 28, 2000, and it was based on the M&Ms Minis line.
- M&Ms became the official chocolate of NASCAR in 2006.
- All-green M&Ms packages were released during the 2008 Valentine’s Day season. These packages were based on the urban folklore of green M&Ms being an aphrodisiac. They were brought back in 2009.
- A 2009 study showed that a dye similar to that of the blue M&Ms holds benefits in helping paralyzed rats walk again.
- In 2010, M&Ms released the Bare All line, which featured normal chocolate M&Ms without shells. Here’s the official website: http://m-msbareall.com.au/index.html. Warning: It’s pretty lame.