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  • Nathan Koall

The invention of M&Ms

In the world of colourful candies, M&M's have earned a special place, captivating the taste buds of millions around the globe. These small, colourful chocolate treats have become a beloved snack, finding their way into candy bowls, movie theatres, and celebrations. But have you ever wondered how M&M's came to be? This essay dives into the fascinating story of their invention, taking us on a sweet journey from their humble beginnings to becoming one of the most popular candy brands in the world.

The Origins:

The story of M&M's dates to the early 1940s. During this time, Forrest Mars Sr., the son of the founder of the Mars Company, observed soldiers in the Spanish Civil War eating small chocolate pellets coated with a hard candy shell. This clever candy design prevented the chocolate from melting in their pockets due to the elevated temperatures on the battlefield.

Inspired by this observation, Mars envisioned creating a candy with a similar concept for the public. He partnered with Bruce Murrie, the son of the president of Hershey Chocolate, and together they embarked on the journey of turning this idea into a reality.

The Creation:

The name "M&M's" derived from the initials of the inventors' surnames, Mars and Murrie. The duo worked tirelessly to perfect their creation, experimenting with different formulas, sizes, and colours. Finally, they settled on a candy-coated chocolate that would revolutionize the confectionery industry.

The candy shell itself presented a unique challenge. It needed to be both colourful and able to withstand the rigors of transportation and storage without cracking. This led to the development of a process called panning, in which the chocolate centres were tumbled in revolving pans while a syrupy mixture of sugar and colouring agents was gradually added. This process resulted in a smooth, vibrant, and durable candy coating.

The Debut:

In 1941, M&M's made their debut in the United States. Initially, they were packaged in small tubes, resembling ammunition containers, emphasizing their military-inspired origins. The candy came in five colours: red, yellow, green, brown, and violet. Their small size and vibrant appearance quickly won the hearts of consumers.

The wartime years proved to be a challenge for M&M's, as rationing limited the availability of chocolate and other ingredients. However, the candies gained popularity among the troops serving overseas, as they provided a taste of home and a quick burst of energy.

Post-War Success:

With the end of World War II, M&M's experienced a surge in popularity. They became a staple treat in American households, and the packaging evolved to include the iconic cardboard tubes we recognize today. The original brown colour was replaced by tan to accommodate the wartime use of brown colouring for military purposes.

Innovation and Expansion:

Over the years, M&M's continued to evolve and innovate. In 1950, the trademark "m" was imprinted on each candy shell, ensuring the authenticity and quality of the product. In 1954, M&M's Peanut, with a peanut centre, was introduced, offering a delightful variation to the original chocolate version.

As the brand's popularity grew, so did the range of colours and flavours. New flavours like peanut butter, crispy, and pretzel-filled M&M's were introduced, catering to a diverse range of taste preferences. Limited editions and seasonal variations also became a part of M&M's allure, captivating consumers with novelty and variety.

From a wartime innovation to a beloved global candy brand, the journey of M&M's is one of ingenuity and sweetness. The visionary collaboration between Forrest Mars Sr. and Bruce Murrie brought forth a candy that revolutionized the way people enjoyed chocolate treats.

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