What the M’s stand for in “M&Ms”

M&MToday I found out what the M’s stand for in “M&Ms”.

In 1941, Forrest Mars Sr., of the Mars candy company, struck a deal with Bruce Murrie, son of famed Hershey president William Murrie,  to develop a hard shelled candy with chocolate at the center.  Mars needed Hershey’s chocolate because he anticipated there would be a chocolate shortage in the pending war, which turned out to be correct.

As such, the deal gave Murrie a 20% stake in the newly developed M&M; this stake was later bought out by Mars when chocolate rationing ended at the end of the war, in 1948.

The name thus stood for “Mars & Murrie” the co-creators of the candy.

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Bonus Facts:

  • The “M&M” was modeled after a candy Forrest Mars, Sr. encountered while in Spain during the 1930s.  During the Spanish civil war there, he observed soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of tempered chocolate.  This prevented the candies from melting, which was essential when included in soldiers rations as they were.
  • During WWII, production of M&Ms skyrocketed due to the fact that they were sold to the military and included as part of United States’ soldiers rations.
  • The original M&M colors were: red, yellow, brown, green, and violet.
  • M&Ms were served in cardboard tubes when they debuted.
  • The “M” printed on the M&Ms was originally printed black.  This was changed to white in 1954.
  • William Murrie, father of Bruce Murrie, was originally hired by Milton Hershey in 1896 as a salesman.  In his first week on the job, he managed to over sell the plant’s production capacity.  This so impressed owner Milton Hershey, that he tabbed Murrie to be the future President of Hershey; this later happened in 1908, a position he held until retiring in 1947.
  • When William Murrie first took over running Hershey, the annual sales of the company was $600,000.  Upon his retirement in 1947, he had grown the company to now have a gross annual sale amount of 120 million dollars; which means, over the span of those 39 years he increased the annual sales rate an average of around 15% per year.
  • In the 1920’s, Murrie tried to convince Hershey that they should produce a chocolate bar with peanuts.  Hershey didn’t like the idea, but let him go ahead as long as the bar wasn’t under the Hershey brand name.  And so, in 1925, the “Chocolate Sales Corporation”, a fictitious company Murrie came up with, debuted the “Mr. Goodbar”, which was wildly successful.
  • Forrest Mars Sr. not only helped invent the M&M, but also famously invented the Mars bar, which was a “malted milkshake in a candy bar”; he also launched the Uncle Ben’s line of food product.
  • At the time of his death at age 95 in 1999, Forrest Mars, Sr. had grown his father’s company to the point where he now had amassed a fortune for himself of over 4 billion dollars.  At that time, he ranked 30th on the list of richest Americans, with his sons Forrest Jr and John ranking 29th and 31st.  He left the company to his children who still exclusively own it today (it is not a publicly traded company).
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  • HershEy. Every time.

  • “# When William Murrie first took over running Hershey, the annual sales of the company was $600,000. Upon his retirement in 1947, he had grown the company to now have a gross annual sale amount of 120 million dollars; which means, over the span of those 39 years he increased the annual sales rate an average of a little over 500% per year.”

    Surely not 500% per annum if you figure in the Great Depression and other sources of massive inflation experienced between 1908 and 1947.

    • Daven Hiskey

      Absolutely true, I worded it poorly. I was meaning annual sales rate in terms of dollars increase averaging over that span. I’m sure it wasn’t 500% every year, but when averaged out was 500% per year in terms of dollars, not necessarily sales rate in terms of how much product sold.

  • Wow I didn’t know M&Ms even stood for anything.

  • Try 43% average increase per year. A 500% increase per year would be 3 million the first year, 15 million the second, 75 the third, 375 the fourth, etc, etc.

    Otherwise- cool story.

  • Interesting, I never even wondered what the M stood for, and that’s usually something I’d google while bored at work. Thanks for the info!

  • At 500% per year, they would have exceeded $120 million in 4 years. Am I horrible at math or do you mean 50% per year?

  • Really…i never wondered what “M” stands for in “M&M”. Just get my pack and eat it all up 🙂

  • Funny story, my wife got fired from the M&M factory for tossing the Ws.

  • Interesting that a lot of chocolate bars were invented quite a while ago….

    1916 Clark bar invented
    1919 Joseph Fry & Sons of Bristol, merged with Cadbury Limited
    1923 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups was invented
    1923 Butterfinger was invented
    1923 Milky Way invented
    1925 Kandy Kake (the original name of the Baby Ruth),
    1925 Oh Henry! invented
    1925 Mr. Goodbar invented
    1930 Snickers Bar was invented .
    1932 3 Musketeers Bar was invented
    1933 Kit Kat was invented
    1938 Nestle’s Crunch was invented

  • 50% is still wrong, that would make it 4.4bil in 39 years. It should be 14.55% I believe.

  • so really they ripped off Spain

  • 14.55% increase is correct, no idea how the author came up with %500….

  • M&M’s are just a knock-off of Smarties, which were actually invented in 1882 in England.

  • Except smarties aren’t even chocolate!

  • Actually Smarties are and always have been chocolate, they have changed over the years in terms of the coating but the center is and was chocolate.

  • Smarties are, to the rest of the world outside of the United States, chocolate candies. For everyone in the US, Smarties are “fruit” flavored sugar candies somewhat resembling little discs of chalk. It’s like football vs soccer.

    • Yes. What Americans call “Smarties” are made in Canada. Canadians call them “Rockets”.

  • I remember hearing somwhere that MM Mars is the largest privately held corporation on the planet….

  • Technically, the very first M&Ms were all brown. The military had no use for pretty colours.

    The colours came after WWII.

    • My students are fascinated how M&M’s were invented for the military in WWII. Chocolate helped the soldiers. The candy coating helped it not to melt. My favorite candy is plain M&Ms. Wow all the different flavors now.

  • OH! It’s M&M not WW. I thought they were little weight pills made by WW…Weight Watchers. I kept taking them and taking them….just kept gaining weight! Bummer!

  • Smarties (like coloured M&Ms) in the U.K. and Canada are a completely different product from a different company then the chalky Smarties sold in the States.

  • Smarties sold in Canada are separate from the Rockets sold in Canada