National M&M Day
Also known as
National M&M's Day
annually on October 13th
When Forrest Mars, Sr., son of Mars candy company founder Frank C. Mars., was in Spain during the 1930s, he came across a candy being eaten by British volunteer soldiers taking part in the Spanish Civil War. It consisted of chocolate pellets with hard tempered chocolate shells—shells that helped keep the candy from melting. Mars used this candy as a model for M&M's, which he thought would be ideal to sell during the warmer months. We celebrate and enjoy his creation today, on National M&M Day!
When Mars came back to the United States, he reached out to Bruce Murrie, son of William Murrie, an executive at Hershey. He thought there may be a shortage of chocolate as World War II started and that by partnering with Murrie it could be guaranteed that there would be no shortage of supplies for his candy. Murrie and Mars became partners, Murrie was given a 20% stake in the company, and the candy was named M&M's in their honor.
After receiving a patent in March of 1941, the production of M&M's Plain Chocolate Candies began in Newark, New Jersey. During these early years, Hershey's chocolate was used to make it. The candy came in cardboard tubes, with the original colors being orange, yellow, red, brown, green, and violet (tan would replace violet by the end of the decade). Once the United States entered World War II, M&M's were sold exclusively to the military to be included in soldiers' rations. Just as it had been with the candy that Mars found in Spain the previous decade, M&M's had a heat-resistant quality that made them easy to transport. Soldiers brought a love for M&M's back home following the war, and the candy became a hit with the public. In 1948, the brown bag packing that remains today was introduced, and in 1949, Mars bought out Murrie's share of the company for $1 million.
In 1950, an "m" began being stamped into M&M's so that consumers knew the candy was authentic. Although the slogan now most associated with M&M's is "melts in your mouth, not in your hand," the phrase of the time was "look for the 'm' on every piece." The stamp originally was black but was changed to white in 1954. That same year, M&M's Peanut Chocolate Candies were introduced, the first alteration in the flavor of the original M&M's. They first were tan, but in 1960 began being made in the same colors as the originals.
Colors continued to change throughout the years, and M&M's made their mark across the world and even in outer space. From 1976 to 1987, there were no red M&M's, after FD&C Red No. 2 was banned by the FDA, a number of years after a Russian study linked it to cancer and fetal death. It had been used more than any other food dye in the United States, although it hadn't been used to color M&M's. The company did away with the red M&M's as to not confuse consumers. In the 1980s, M&M's began being sold in the Asia Pacific, Russia, Europe, and Australia. In 1981, they became the first candy in outer space, when they were taken on the first space shuttle voyage, aboard the Columbia, as part of the astronauts' food supply. (They later also flew on the final space shuttle flight.)
M&M's were the official snack food of the 1984 Summer Olympics. In 1989, M&M's Peanut Butter Chocolate Candies debuted, and M&M's Minis Milk Chocolate Candies did so in 1997. Following a vote by consumers between the colors blue, pink, and purple, it was decided that blue M&M's would replace tan in 1995. Changes continued to be made in more recent years. For example, M&M's Caramel Candies debuted in 2017. M&M's have permeated American and world culture to the extent of becoming one of the most well-known and loved types of candy. They are ubiquitous, timeless, and tasty, making them the perfect chocolate treat to celebrate today!
How to Observe National M&M Day
Here are a few ideas on how to celebrate the day:
- Eat some of the many flavors of M&M's.
- Bake something using M&M's.
- Stop at an M&M's retail store.
- Sign up for the M&M's mailing list.
- Hold some M&M's in your hands and see how long before they melt.
- Watch some M&M's commercials.