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Which Candy Got Its Start in Military Rations?

In 1932, Mars Company founder Frank Mars and his son Forrest had a falling out. Forrest packed his bags and headed off to England to seek fame and fortune, inventing the enduringly popular Mars bar. According to confectionery legend, during the Spanish Civil War, Mars observed soldiers eating British-made Smarties, little chocolate pellets coated with a shell that confectioners call hard panning. The coating prevented the candy from melting. Back in the United States, in 1941, Mars secured a patent for his own manufacturing process and began to produce the first M&M's. At first, M&M's were sold exclusively to the U.S. military, and they quickly became a staple for soldiers fighting in World War II -- especially those stationed in hot climates.

The colorful history of M&M's:

  • The M’s represent the names of Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie, son of Hershey Chocolate president William Murrie. The candies were made with Hershey chocolate, now one of Mars’ largest competitors.
  • In 1949, the brand introduced the classic tagline “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.” But the candies didn’t get the signature "M" stamp until 1950.
  • Peanut M&M's were introduced in 1954 but back then, they were only available in a tan color. By 1960, a bag of M&M's also included yellow, red and green candies.
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