M&M’s first logo was unveiled in 1941, the same year the company was founded. The logo has always consisted of a simple wordmark, but the only difference in all the versions has been the color scheme and font used.
The current M&M logo is the work of Nicole Garcia, a graphic designer. The first “M” represents Mars (Forrest Mars Sr.), while the second “M” represents Murrie (Bruce Murrie). Mars and Murrie called their new company M&M Ltd when they formed it in 1941. To help ready the factory, Hershey Chocolate contributed 20 percent of the capital, the chocolate, manufacturing equipment, and engineers.
M&M’s were first made available for sale in America in 1941. But within the next few months, the U.S. entered the Second World War, and M&M’s were produced exclusively for the U.S. army since they didn’t melt in warm climates. It was after the end of the Second World War that M&M’s were again made available to the public.
The M&M’s Logo Evolution
The original M&M’s logo has lowercase letters in a classic sans serif font, which was a bit thinner and extended in height. The letters “M” and the ampersand were bigger than the “S.” In addition, the original logo had a monochrome color scheme.
1954 — 1971
The font was altered to a hand-drawn uneven style against a black background, featuring a yellow hue during this period. This was the most eye-catching M&M’s visual identity in the company’s history.
1971 — 1988
The logo’s color scheme was again changed to brown against a white background in 1971. The wordmark had a more assured font, and this design lasted 17 years until 1988.
1988 — 2001
In 1988, the darker, more chocolate brown was the main color scheme of M&M’s visual identity. The wordmark featured stronger and cleaner lines. This logo design was simple yet powerful and lasted well over a decade.
2001 — 2004
The M&M’s logo redesign brought a new brighter brown shade to the wordmark. It also featured a brown and white outline, which added a bit of volume to the symbol.
2004 — 2018
The M&M’s logo was placed diagonally against a white background, with a brown gradient and featuring a black shadow. This added dynamism and a modern feel to the logo.
2019 — Present
The redesign of the M&M’s logo in 2019 returned the flat two-dimensional form to the symbol, with dark brown also returning as the main color scheme of the brand. The wordmark is still rendered diagonally but appears more confident and minimalist. The ampersand features a white outline and is placed above the letters.
The History of M&M’s
The name of chocolate begins with the letter “M”? Perhaps, the most obvious answer would be M&M’s. Who hasn’t heard about it or tasted it? M&M’s chocolate is a world-famous sweet treat, arguably one of the best movie treats alongside popcorn, and is always present during trick or treat time at Halloween.
M&M’s chocolate became much more than soldiers’ candy after the Second World War. It was manufactured through a unique procedure, making it not easily melt in warm temperatures and climates.
M&M’s in the 1940s–1970s
The idea for M&M’s candy came from Forrest Mars Sr., who copied the idea from his father’s company during the 1930s Spanish Civil War. Mars had seen soldiers partaking British-made Smarties, chocolate pellets covered with hard panning (basically hardened sugar syrup), which prevented the candies from melting.
In March 1941, Mars got a copyright for his own manufacturing process. Production started shortly afterward in a plant located in Newark, New Jersey. The company began operations as M&M Ltd.
The two “Ms” in M&M stand for Forrest Mars Sr. and Bruce Marie, who owned a 20 percent stake in the product and was the son of William F.R. Murrie, Hershey Chocolate’s president. The setup allowed Hershey Chocolate to make the candies, as Hershey controlled the rationed chocolate market at the time.
M&M’s first major consumer was the U.S. military, which saw the candy as a great way for soldiers to have chocolate in warmer regions without it melting. The candies were sold to soldiers only during the Second World War. The ensuing demand for M&M’s candies led to the company increasing its production and moving its manufacturing plant to a larger base in Newark, New Jersey.
The company stayed in this base up to 1958 when it relocated to an even larger base at Hackettstown. In 1978, the company opened a second factory in Cleveland, Tennessee. Today, around half of M&M’s production takes place at the Hackettstown factory, with the other half occurring at the Tennessee plant.
In 1950, the candies had a black “M” imprinted on them, giving them a special trademark. Four years later, this trademark was altered to white.
In 1954, peanut M&M’s were made but first came out in the tan color only. In 1960, the company added yellow, green, and red colors.
In 1976, orange replaced red in the M&M’s. The red was discontinued because its second and fourth dyes were suspected of having carcinogenic properties. Although M&M’s were produced with the less contentious red dye number 40, customers were wary of red dye in food. In 1987, red M&M’s were brought back to the market.
M&M’s in the 1980s
During the 1980s, M&M’s candies were introduced abroad to Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Malaysia.
In the early 1980s, M&M’s Royals were introduced with a promotional campaign that stated that chocolate now had a touch of mint. The Royals were brown or pale green and featured a crown instead of an M&M’s logo.
While almond-centered M&M’s were introduced and then recalled in the 1960s, they were re-introduced in 1988 only during Easter and Christmas holidays. They then became a fixture of the product range in 1992.
In 1986, M&M’s also introduced candies for the Easter and Christmas holidays dubbed “Holidays Chocolate.” The Easter candies have a bunny, egg, and chick signs on pastel shells, while Christmas candies feature candle, bell, and pine tree symbols on green and red shells, as well as a unique mint flavor. The classic trademark “M” replaced the holiday symbols in 1993.
M&M’s in the 1990s
Peanut butter M&M’s came out in 1991. These candies contain peanut butter in the shell and have a similar color scheme to the other varieties. By 2013, peanut butter M&M’s had become a bit smaller.
In 1995, blue M&M’s replaced tan M&M’s, which were discontinued. In 1996, M&M’s introduced smaller candies known as “M&M’s Minis.” These candies were packaged in plastic tubes rather than bags.
Crispy M&M’s were introduced in 1999. They were a bit bigger than the brand’s milk chocolate and also had a crispy wafer in the middle. In 2005, they were withdrawn in the U.S. and remained on sale in Europe as well as Southeast Asia. They were later re-introduced to the U.S. in January 2015.
M&M’s in the 2000s
In 2001, M&M’s introduced dulce de leche in five markets boasting significant Hispanic populations: San Diego, California; Los Angeles, California; San Antonio, Texas; McAllen-Brownsville, Texas; and Miami, Florida. The flavor never caught on in the community, who favored existing flavors and, by early 2003, it was stopped in most areas.
M&M’s in the 2010s
Pretzel M&M’s were introduced in 2010. They have a salty, crunchy pretzel middle inside the chocolate shell and are around the size of peanut butter M&M’s, but they’re often more spherical in shape.
M&M’s re-introduced its chocolate bar in 2013. It was originally introduced in 2004 and branded M-Azing. Mega M&M’s were brought back in 2014. Before then, they had been introduced in 2007 as “Ogre-sized M&M’s,” promoting the Shrek films.
Crispy M&M’s were brought back to the U.S. market in 2015. They had always remained on sale in Australia and Europe. The M&M’s cookie was re-released in the U.S. in 2016. In 2017, M&M’s chocolate bars were made available in Australia in six varieties (strawberry, crispy, milk chocolate, almond, crispy mint, and hazelnut). Also, Caramel M&M’s were introduced in the U.S. the same year.
In 2019, M&M’s introduced the Hazelnut Spread flavor in the U.S. The following year, the company introduced the Fudge Brownie in the U.S.
Chocolate M&M’s Color Changes
MM’s candies were originally red, yellow, green, brown, and violet. In late the 1940s, violet was discarded in favor of tan.
In 1976, red-colored M&M’s were discontinued due to health concerns about the Red #2 dye (suspected to have carcinogenic properties) and replaced by orange M&M’s. The company changed the color to reassure worried consumers, even though the red M&M’s didn’t have the suspected carcinogenic properties.
In 1986, a University of Tennessee student Paul Hethmon began a hoax campaign to re-introduce red M&M’s that eventually became a global phenomenon. Therefore, red M&M’s were reinstated the following year, and the orange variety that had replaced them was retained.
In early 1995, M&M’s consumers were asked to choose one color out of blue, purple, or pink that would replace tan-colored M&M’s. Blue was eventually chosen, and it replaced tan towards the end of 1995.
In 2002, M&M’s customers were again invited to vote for their favorite color out of aqua (turquoise), purple, and pink to introduce a new color. Purple was chosen and featured for a short time.
Since 2004, M&M’s candies have been available in 17 colors online, with customized expressions written on each candy opposite the side with the “M.” Introduced around Christmas, the custom-printed candies were initially designed to convey holiday wishes but are now sold throughout the year.
In October 2011, M&M’s released the white chocolate candy corn flavor exclusively in the U.S. for Halloween. The candies are available in three colors inspired by candy corn: bright orange, bright yellow, and white.
M&M’s are available in many different varieties with different fillings and sizes. Some have been made available only for a brief period of time, like Easter’s white cheesecake, Halloween’s white candy corn or pumpkin spice, and Valentine’s Day’s white strawberry shortcake.
- Regular sizes in all the flavors, mega (3x the chocolate), the “chocolate bar,” and minis.
- Nut: Peanuts, peanut butter, hazelnuts, almonds, white chocolate peanut, dark chocolate peanut, strawberry nut, and strawberry peanut butter.
- Chocolate: White chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate.
- Fruit: Orange chocolate, raspberry, cherry, cherry cordial, coconut, pineapple, tropical, and candy apple.
- Herb and Spice: Pumpkin spice, cinnamon, mint chocolate, holiday mint, white chocolate peppermint, hot cross buns, gingerbread, crunchy mint, mint crisp, mocha, pumpkin spice latte, honey nut, chili nut, and coffee nut.
- Dessert: Pretzel, vanilla shake, crispy, caramel, salted caramel, crunchy caramel, lamington, fudge brownie, three milks, white chocolate pecan pie, dulce de leche, birthday cake, red velvet, white chocolate candy corn, and white chocolate carrot cake.
- Colors: Easter usually offers pastel-colored M&M’s, while Christmas bags are always red and green only. In the U.S. holidays like Labor Day, Independence Day, and Memorial Day, the M&M’s candies come in red, blue, and white.
Summarizing the History of M&M’s
M&M’s are button-shaped multi-colored chocolate candies. Each of which features a lower case “M” printed on one side in white, made up of a candy shell covering a variable filling, depending on the M&M’s variety.
M&M’s were first introduced in 1941. Since then, they’ve had a massive impact on popular culture in the U.S. From their origins as snacks for American soldiers in the Second World War to being carried along in the first and final NASA space missions, M&M’s have had a long and eventful history.
The original M&M’s candy has a slightly sweet chocolate filling. The first variations of M&M’s were peanut M&M’s, which have a peanut covered with milk chocolate as well as a candy shell. They are still a popular treat today.
Many other variants have been made, some of which are standard popular varieties (almond, pretzel, peanut butter, caramel, dark chocolate, crispy). In contrast, others aren’t always available or aren’t available in some geographical locations. M&M’s are arguably the most recognizable product in Mars Company’s Wrigley Confectionery division.
Since 2003, M&M’s have been available in more than 100 countries. They come in a yummy variety of colors, with some having been changed throughout the years.