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A Brief History About M&Ms

Jan 31, 2008
Some parents kick their kids out of the house. Frank Mars kicked his son out of the country.

In the beginning, there was Franklin Mars, who started a small candy company in Tacoma, Washington, in 1911. In 1923, Mars, by then in Minneapolis, Minnesota, invented the Milky Way candy bar, which became a national hit and was soon followed by his equally successful Three Musketeers and Snickers bars.

By 1928, Mars' son, Forrest, had graduated from Yale and joined the family business. But Forrest and his father did not get along, and finally the elder Mars presented Forrest with a proposition he couldn't refuse: take the recipe and foreign rights to the Milky Way bar and leave the country. Forrest skedaddled to England and started his own candy company, churning out Milky Ways for an appreciative British public. As a sideline, he also started England's first pet food company, replacing the table scraps on which British pets had, until then, subsisted.

In 1939, as World War II gathered steam in Europe, Forrest Mars returned to the United States, bringing with him the American rights to a British candy called Smarties, small circular tablets of chocolate coated in a shell of hard candy. To sell his new product, Mars went into partnership with R. Bruce Murrie, who just happened to be the adopted son of chocolate magnate Milton Hershey. Unfortunately, there already was candy named Smarties in the market in the United States, a small, tart confection sold in a roll, so Mars and Murrie needed a new name. In renaming Smarties for the American market, Mars simply combined his last initial with that of his partner, Murrie, and "M&Ms" was born.

Originally sold in paper tubes, M&Ms were an instant hit, especially because they didn't melt during the summer when candy sales traditionally slumped, due to their "meltproof" hard candy shell. That shell also made M&Ms a natural choice for the U.S. Army to issue to its soldiers as part of standard rations during the war, and in 1954 Mars adopted the slogan "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth-not in your hand," which is still used today.

After his father's death in 1934, Forrest fought a long legal battle to take control of Mars, Inc., finally succeeding in 1962. Today Mars manufactures M&Ms, Milky Way, Snickers, Three Musketeers, and other candy as well as Uncle Ben's Rice (which Forrest Mars perfected), and Kal Kan and Pedigree pet foods. Kicking his son out of the country may have been the best business decision Frank Mars ever made.
About the Author
Angela Abbette writes on a variety of subjects, including about articles food and drink articles similar to the ones found at her favorite free article publishing directory.
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