yellow m&m waving hello

7 January, 2022

Why Are Promotional M&Ms So Popular

One confectionery product that is instantly recognisable is M&Ms. We thought it might be useful to go on a little history journey as to how this little piece of chocolate confectionery became so popular.

The first release of M&Ms was in 1941, however their story can be traced to earlier than that. During the Spanish civil war, Forest Mars Senior (the son of the owner of Mars candy company), moved to England and started making Mars bars for the troops. The story goes that he met some British volunteers who had small chocolate beads encased in a hard sugar coating to prevent them melting. The thought came to him that he could use this idea to produce a chocolate snack that could withstand summer temperatures and the idea of M&Ms was born. He returned to the USA and M&Ms plain chocolate candies were launched in 1941.

The original chocolate used came from Hersheys. The story goes that when Forest Mars returned to the USA, he contacted Bruce Murrie, who was the son of one of the Hershey executives and asked him to join him in a new business venture. Forest was anticipating that because of World War 2, there would be a shortage of chocolate & sugar, so to ensure a steady supply for his business he looked to Hersheys. In return Hersheys received a 20% stake in the new product. This is also where the name M and M came from – it is to represent the two surnames of the business partners – “Mars” and “Murrie”.

The famous “M” printed on the candy didn’t exist when they were first launched, By the 1950’s they had become so popular and there were many imitators, they wanted to help consumers distinguish between the real and fake M&Ms, so they came up with the idea of printing an “M” on each piece and came up with the slogan of “Look for the M on every piece.”

When they were first sold, it was exclusively to the USA military for the troops. They were supplied in cardboard tubes in 6 different coloured coatings. As they were heat resistant and easy to transport, they became a staple of GIs rations. After the war was over and the GIs returned home, they were hooked on this little chocolate bean and they became a hit.

One of the more unique history footnotes for M&Ms was they were the first candy to rocket into space on the first NASA space shuttle, the Columbia, in 1981. They were picked  because of the same reasons they were popular for GI rations – their durability and compact packaging.

M&Ms certainly have a rich history and they are still just as popular today. On confectioneryonly you’ll find lots of different options for M&Ms that can all be custom branded. You’ve got clear cello bags that can have a full colour sticker on the outside, to small glass and tin containers, and more unique packaging options such as plastic champagne bottles, test tubes and even fake syringes.

If you have an event coming up where you would like to use them for a promotion we’d be more than happy to help with a suggestion of what would work best, or you can just browse on the website for yourself.


The Confectionery Only Team