Who would have guessed that the idea for M&M'S® Plain Chocolate Candies was hatched against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War? Legend has it that, while on a trip to Spain, Forrest Mars Sr. encountered soldiers who were eating pellets of chocolate encased in a hard sugary coating. This prevented it from melting. Inspired by this idea, Mr. Mars went back to his kitchen and invented the recipe for M&M'S® Plain Chocolate Candies.M&M'S® Chocolate Candies were first sold in 1941, and soon became a favorite of the American GIs serving in World War II. Packaged in cardboard tubes, they were sold to the military as a convenient snack that traveled well in any climate. By the late 1940s, they were widely available to the public, who gave them an excellent reception. In 1948, their packaging changed from a tube form to the characteristic brown pouch we know today.
Growth in the U.S.
When America entered the 1950s, M&M'S® Plain Chocolate Candies were quickly becoming a household word, particularly with the growth of television. In 1954, M&M'S® Peanut Chocolate Candies were introduced to the Brand's portfolio, and sales of both varieties continued to grow. That same year, the universally loved M&M'S® Brand Characters and the famous slogan, "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth—not in your hand"®, debuted in the initial TV advertising.In 1960, M&M'S® Peanut Chocolate Candies added three new colors—red, green and yellow—to the original brown color. In 1972, the M&M'S® Brand Characters first appeared on packaging, and became increasingly known through print and TV advertising, reinforcing Brand awareness. In 1976, orange was added to the M&M'S® Peanut Chocolate Candies color mix.Also in 1976, due to public controversy surrounding a particular red food coloring, red M&M'S® Chocolate Candies were removed from the traditional color mix. The red food coloring in question was not actually used in M&M'S® Chocolate Candies. However, to avoid consumer confusion, the red candies were pulled from the color mix.
Throughout the years, around the world, and into the space
In 1981, M&M'S® Chocolate Candies were chosen by the first space shuttle astronauts to be included in their food supply. M&M'S® Chocolate Candies are now on permanent display at the space food exhibit of the National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C.In the early 1980s, a special holiday line of M&M'S® Chocolate Candy products was launched. The new seasonal color blends included red and green colors for Christmas, and pastel colors for Easter. Also in the '80s, M&M'S® Brand accelerated its international expansion, primarily entering the European markets.
Red Brought Back
1987 was a very important year in the history of M&M'S® Brand, as red was returned to the traditional color mix—due to overwhelming request from consumers.
Taking a Mega-Brand to a New Level
The 1990s brought two new products to the M&M'S® Brand family: M&M'S® Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies and M&M'S® Almond Chocolate Candies.In 1995—over a half-century after the candies were first introduced—consumers across America helped write a new chapter in the history of M&M'S® Brand. A "mega" marketing event asked Americans to vote for a new color to appear in the traditional M&M'S® Chocolate Candies color mix. Their choices included blue, pink and purple—or no change. Blue won by a landslide, with 54% of the more than 10 million votes cast. Also in 1995, M&M'S® Chocolate Mini Baking Bits were introduced, adding colorful chocolate fun to the world of baking.
1996- an Award-Winning Year
1996 will be remembered for many exciting M&M'S® Brand events. The advertising campaign utilizing the M&M'S® Brand Characters catapulted to the #1 position among the 60 different campaigns rated by USA Today. And, the new Characters became a hit with consumers, too—surpassing even the popularity of family favorites like Mickey Mouse and Bart Simpson. (Source: Marketing Evaluation, Inc.) Also in 1996, the Brand introduced M&M'S® MINIS® Chocolate Candies, which come in reclosable plastic tubes of six different colors.In another major breakthrough, the M&M'S® Brand Characters went "Virtual Hollywood" across the Internet with the opening of the M&M'S® Studios®. Visitors to the M&M'S® Brand website found themselves within the glamorous world of the M&M'S® Brand Spokescandies. This parody of a Hollywood studio's website was as colorful as the M&M'S® Brand Stars were themselves.In the same year, M&M'S® Brand introduced M&M'S® COLORWORKS®—a veritable kaleidoscope of over 20 brilliantly colored M&M'S® Chocolate Candies. M&M'S® Brand Chocolate Candy lovers could create, for the very first time, their own personalized color blends to add their unique touch of color to each special occasion.
M&M'S WORLD® & the New Millennium
The memorable moment of 1997 was the debut of Green, the first female M&M'S® Brand Character. This multifaceted '90s woman and author has starred in a number of popular M&M'S® Brand commercials. She toured the U.S. promoting her autobiography, "I Melt for No One", and quickly achieved the celebrity status of her male colleagues—Red, Yellow and Blue.In late 1997, M&M'S® Chocolate Candies charted new "chocolate" waters with the grand opening of M&M'S WORLD®—the Brand's very own retail store on the Las Vegas strip. The unique shopping experience translates all the color and fun of M&M'S® Chocolate Candies into one-of-a-kind M&M'S® branded merchandise, ranging from T-shirts and designer jackets, to designer dresses, jewelry and furniture.In early 1998, the M&M'S® Brand Characters proclaimed themselves the "Official Spokescandies of the New Millennium." Since in Roman numerals "MM" means 2000, it was the logical connection. Red and Yellow love to be in the limelight, and they decided to milk it for all it was worth by kicking off the Millennium celebration early. And, in November 1998, the M&M'S® Brand Characters starred in their first feature film, when their new 3D movie attraction opened at the M&M'S WORLD® store in Las Vegas.1999 brought great news for the world's largest confectionery Brand. In January of that year, M&M'S® Crispy Chocolate Candies were first introduced to consumers. Response to the new product was overwhelming.2000 was an exciting year for M&M'S® Brand. In May of that year, M&M'S® MINIS® Mega Tubes™ were introduced—the first king-size chocolate item made just for kids. This new larger-size tube joined the single-size tube, which was introduced back in 1996. Now there are two different-size M&M'S® MINIS® tubes for kids to enjoy and collect!Another historic moment occurred in the summer of 2000. After all those years, it was finally decided that M&M'S® Chocolate Candies were just too good to be called "Plain", and all packaging underwent a name change—from "M&M'S® Plain Chocolate Candies" to "M&M'S® Milk Chocolate Candies". The announcement was made by the outspoken Spokescandy Red, who claimed that he had been lobbying for this change for a long time, and had finally managed to convince everyone at M&MS® Brand headquarters to make it happen.
2001-2003........Going Global,Going Groovy
2001 and 2002 were truly amazing years—all around the world—for M&M'S® Brand. In addition to launching a new global website, M&M'S® Brand conducted the Global Color Vote™. This largest promotion in the Brand's 63-year history saw M&M'S® Chocolate Candy lovers from over 200 different countries vote for a new M&M'S® Brand color. With purple, pink and aqua on the ballot, fans used their phones, logged onto mms.com, sent in mail, and visited kiosks worldwide to cast their votes. The final results—purple: 41%, aqua 37% and pink 19%. For a limited time, purple became a respected member of the M&M'S® Brand color blend.2003 was chock full of exciting and eventful happenings in the M&M'S® Brand world. The year kicked off with the birth of a wonderful relationship between M&M'S® Brand and Special Olympics, resulting in the "Keep Wrappers to Keep Dreams Alive" program, which raised over 1 million dollars. As the year progressed, everyone was excited for summer, and what a groovy one it was! To celebrate the groovy spirit of the '60s and '70s, the summer of 2003 was branded "M&M'S® Groovy Summer". The festivities included new packaging designed by famous artist Michael Rios, best known for his work on Santana album covers, and mixed inside these packages were M&M'S® Chocolate Candies with a brand new, groovy look.Following M&M'S® Groovy Summer was a partnership with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to increase awareness during October, National Breast Cancer Month. M&M'S® Brand created a special pink and white color blend that was made available in drug and grocery stores nationwide.With 2003 winding down, M&M'S® Brand lovers were asked to vote for their favorite M&M'S® Brand commercial of all time, and to share their favorite M&M'S® Brand memories. The response was terrific, as people all around the country were eager to share their "Most Colorful M&M'S® Brand Moments".The winning commercial was "Switch", featuring Patrick Warburton, Red, Yellow, and Crispy, which aired on NBC during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In the commercial, Warburton chides the Spokecandies for "eating their own kind". So the three simply switch bags and continue munching, much to his dismay.
Where Did All the Color Go?
2004 opened with a bang and a surprise. Just before the clock struck, Red and Yellow were partying with the world's oldest teenager, Dick Clark, on his New Year's Rockin' Eve special. But at midnight, something unprecedented happened—Red, Yellow, and the rest of the M&M'S® Chocolate Candies lost their color!Everyone wondered, "Will the colors come back?" Luckily, industrious M&M'S® Chocolate Candy lovers all over the country searched for and found the missing colors, after two and a half months of Black and White M&M'S® Chocolate Candies. Color's triumphant return on March 11, 2004 was marked by a grand celebration in Los Angeles, where voices could be heard exclaiming, "Chocolate is Better in Color!"™