One of the most iconic candy in the world is M&M’s. This small, round, colourful chocolate are sold around the world. But how come they exist? Why do they have the letter “M” on them? And how does the letter “M” get onto the chocolate in the first place?
The History of the M & M
In the 1930’s, Forrest Mars, Sr. came across Smarties during the Spanish Civil War. These chocolate pellets covered with shells of hardened sugar prevented the chocolate inside from melting.
When Mars discovered this, he created his own method of making similar candies, and patented his product in 1941. The company was founded as M&M Limited, standing for Forrest Mars, and Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey Chocolate’s founder, who owned a 20 percent share of the product.
Hershey also supplied the chocolate to M&M Limited, which was rationed during wartime.
It wasn’t until 1950, over ten years after the first M&M chocolates were made, that the letter “M” was imprinted on the candy. There are a few reasons that explain why M&M chocolates became so successful.
Firstly; there was a huge demand for chocolate during the Second World War. Mars sold exclusively to the military during the war. Secondly; the Midwest Research Institute perfected a process that would allow 3,300 pounds of chocolate pellets to be coated every hour. S
o Mars had a high demand for chocolate, and the capacity to supply that high demand efficiently. The last reason is that the iconic letter “M” reminded everyone exactly what they were eating, all the time.
The letter “M” on the chocolates turned out to be a great marketing technique for the product, and the company.
How do you get the M on M&M’s?
So finally, how do you get the “M” on “M&M’s”? The Ms are applied similar to “offset printing.”
Basically, the process involves vegetable dye, water, and a rubber roller. Just like a stamp, the chocolate goes through on a conveyor belt and is stamped with the letter M.
Custom M and M’s
+ Bonus Knowledge Nugget
Today, an M&M printer can stamp approximately 2.5 million M&M’s in an hour.
Sadly, the story of Mars and Murrie does not end happily. At the end of the war, along with the rationing of chocolate, Mars bought out Murrie’s stake holdings of the company.
Mars Inc. is now one of Hershey’s biggest competitors. Since their creation in 1940, Mars Inc. has developed many new chocolate and candy products that are sold almost everywhere in the world.
Also see: Peeps Candy Facts
Show Me the Proof
- “Inventor of the Week: Archive”. Web.mit.edu.
I’m Natalie Garcia and I started this website to share my love of trivia, facts and fun knowledge tidbits. We cover things like celebrity gossip, historical facts, tv shows, world leaders and just odd and random fun things. I started this site to have some fun with my hobby and share some useful information with you, our community. Please feel to send me your suggestions and feedback through the contact form. And if you have suggestions for things to write about, please shoot me a message!