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M&Ms

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

M&Ms Line

There’s a favorite candy here in the United States, it’s called M&Ms ... or maybe they’re called M&Ms, I’m never quite sure about how to make implied plurals singular.

M&Ms are not unique, they have a similar candy product in the UK and other former parts of the crown called Smarties. And of course there are plenty of knock-offs, including Hersheyettes, Jots, Rocklets, Sun Drops and Garfield’s Chocobites. There are quite a few legends about how M&Ms and Smarties were invented, but suffice to say that they exist and that’s the important part.

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Milk Chocolate M&Ms
imageYear Introduced: 1940
Mascot: smart-mouthed Red one (once voiced by Jon Lovitz, now Billy West)
What is it: milk chocolate center covered with a thin candy shell with a lower case “m” mark

You’re not crazy, they were once called Plain M&Ms, but in 2000 they shifted their name to Milk Chocolate M&Ms.

A little bit of trivia and history. The Ms in M&M stand for Forrest Mars and R. Bruce Murrie. Forrest Mars left his fathers candy company and partnered with Murrie to create the M&M. It took some help, which came from Murrie’s father, who ran the Hershey Chocolate company at the time. The technology behind the manufacture of M&Ms and even the chocolate itself came from Hershey’s factories. In the 60s Mars starting making their own chocolate and no longer needed to order it from Hershey.

Red M&Ms were discontinued in 1976 because of a scare with a food dye called Red Dye #2 (which was not used in M&Ms). At that time the colors in the M&M pack were: Green, Orange, Yellow, Light Brown & Dark Brown. The Red M&M returned in 1985, at first as part of the Holiday color mix then in the regular mix.

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Peanut M&Ms
imageYear Introduced: 1954
Mascot: the dim-witted Yellow one (once voiced by John Goodman now J.K. Simmons)
What is it: A whole peanut center, a layer of chocolate and a thin candy shell with a lower case “m” mark

Overwhelmingly consistent in size, which is a credit to M&Ms production line choosing peanuts that are all the same size. The crunchy candy shell and slightly smoky tasting nuts combine well but overshadow the chocolate a smidge. But the chocolate provides a mellow sweetness and a creaminess during the final stages of chewing. I do get a bad peanut every once in a while, but usually not one every bag.

M&Ms were not a blazing success when they were launched, though they were well received. The trick for Mars was to figure out how to reach both their intended consumers (children) and the decision makers (parents). M&Ms were initially sold to the military during WWII, but Mars thought they were the perfect kids candy. Kids loved them, they just couldn’t convince their parents to buy them. It wasn’t until they hit upon their slogan, “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” that parents caught on that it was a less messy chocolate candy for kids. The rest is history.

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Almond M&Ms
imageYear Introduced: 1988 (seasonal) 1992 (permanent)
Mascot: Blue (who looks about as dim as Yellow)
What is it: A whole almond covered in milk chocolate then a thin candy shell with a lower case “m” mark

Really, this is the perfect M&M, as far as I’m concerned. They almonds might not be top notch as they’re often small, but they’re fresh and crunchy and provide a good backdrop to the very sweet and slightly grainy chocolate.

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Peanut Butter M&Ms
imageYear Introduced: 1990
Mascot: Green (those boots are made for walkin’ )
What is it: a little sphere of peanut butter inside a shell of milk chocolate and then a thin crunchy candy shell with a lower case “m” mark

These are very nice and satisfying, but I find them a little greasy and smoky tasting.

One of the interesting bits of trivia about M&Ms Peanut Butter is that there was a large lawsuit between Hershey & Mars when they first came out. Hershey accused Mars of trying to make them look like Reese’s Pieces - the packaging was the same color, the format of the bag, the type was in brown, etc. Now you’ll notice that the color is slightly shifted away from the Reese’s Orange (tm) to a reddish color.

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Crispy M&Ms
imageYear introduced: 1998
Mascot: Red and Orange
What is it: a rice-based crisp center covered in milk chocolate and a thin candy shell with a lower case “m” mark

The look of these is terribly inconsistent, which strikes me as a little odd since you’d think they’d have more control over how big the crisp centers are than peanuts. The colors also weren’t quite the same, the green was a little light and the red was a little thin looking. I wasn’t able to find the American Crispy M&Ms, so I bought some Canadian ones. So the chocolate on these is slightly more milky tasting, which is an interesting, malty complement to the crispy center. A little sweet, a little bland.

Dovetailing with the earlier issue with Reese’s & Peanut Butter M&Ms, you’ll notice that the Crispy M&Ms are positioned to rival the Nestle Crunch Bar, which is really all they are, a little Crunch bar in a shell. The light blue and use of the Red M&M echoes the Nestle Crunch colors.

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Dark Chocolate M&Ms
imageYear Introduced: 2006
Mascot: Green (voiced by Cree Summer in commercials - she’s reclining in this package)
What is it: darker chocolate center covered in a thin candy shell with lowercase “m” mark and sometimes “m dark”

These have a smoky and darker flavor than the milk M&Ms, but also a little note of coconut. The ingredients also list skim milk, milkfat and lactose, so I’m not sure how they’re considered “dark chocolate.” They’re gorgeously shiny and consistent, so consider me tempted when they’re sitting in front of me. There’s currently an additional reward of 2 million Dark M&Ms being offered for the return of The Scream.

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White Chocolate M&Ms “Pirate Pearls” (Limited Edition)
imageYear Introduced: 2006 (limited edition)
Mascot: Green (with black boots)
What is it: white chocolate covered in a thin candy shell with a lower case “m” mark and sometimes a little pictogram worked into it (cannon, crossed swords, ship, spyglass, skull and hook) that come in special colors (white, aqua, light yellow, cream)

Yup, white chocolate in a candy shell. They’re nice enough, but just too sweet for me. They’re okay when you eat them in combination with other M&Ms (especially the Dark ones), but I’m not sure I’ll buy these again and I won’t protest if they don’t end up as a permanent item.

Other versions of M&Ms over the years: Dulce de Leche (2001), Mega (still around), Minis (still around), Spec-tacular Eggs (seasonal), Mint (seasonal) and of course many color promotions and movie tie ins. Then there are other M’azing things done with them that I’ve never gotten on board with.

There has never been an M&Ms gum ... but I’m not saying it won’t happen.

Have you had enough of M&Ms? If not, check out these scans of knock-offs, Brad Kent’s wrapper collection (you’ll have to search for M&Ms to find them all), how they’re made, some more history, Candy Critic’s M&M Destruction Project, a Century of Candy Bars (there are pictures of M&Ms wrappers through the years) and if you’re still obsessed, join the M&M Collectors Club (they collect the merchandise, not the actual candies).

The product line gets a 9 out of 10. I might not like every variety, but they’re a great product and really do make snacking fun.

Related Candies

  1. Mint Crisp M&Ms (Indiana Jones)
  2. Skittles Chocolate Mix
  3. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  4. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  5. M&M Pirate Pearls
  6. Darth M&Ms

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:26 am     CandyReviewMarsChocolateCookieLimited EditionM&MsNutsPeanutsWhite Chocolate9-YummyCanadaUnited States

Dark M&Ms Offer Reward

imageI hesitate to call this a new contest, but M&Ms is running a promotion for the new Dark M&Ms. On the second anniversary of the theft of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” from Oslo, M&Ms announced their commitment to finding the painting by adding to the current reward of $2 million. Now the reward has an additional bonus of 2 million M&Ms.

In case you were wondering how many M&Ms that is, well, it’s a lot. 2.2 tons. So if you’ve got that Scream painting sitting around taking up room in your house, just know that by returning it you’re going to have to make a lot more room for 40,000 packages of Dark M&Ms. Of course if you’re the one returning it, you’re gonna go to prison. But fret not! You can make your very own art with M&Ms.

Here’s the press release on the subject that includes information about consumer attitudes towards dark chocolate.

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Guggenheim Museum, NY, NY: To herald the arrival of M&M’s Dark Chocolate, George Morrisey of Masterfoods, unveils a painting, which brings a bit of fun to a well known dark subject, Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The original painting was stolen on August 22, 2004 from the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway. M&M’s is offering 2 million of the new dark chocolate M&M’S as a reward for the return of the painting.

UPDATE: Holy Moly! The Scream and Madonna (also stolen at the same time) were found! They were found by the police who have been systematically looking for the paintings ... no word yet if M&Ms is gonna send those couple of tons of candy to the cops.

UPDATED UPDATE: M&Ms has responded!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:56 am     MarsM&MsFun StuffNews

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Darth M&Ms

In my continuing effort to bring you timely reviews of new products (that’s a joke), I finally found some Darth M&Ms at the 99 Cent Only Store. I picked up collector’s pack 18 of 72. In fact, they were all 18 of 72 at the 99 Cent Only Store. I’m not certain if these are still available, the website is still up.

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I was a little confused at how these are considered dark chocolate, as they have milk in them, but that’s probably part of the evil Sith plan. The colors are actually pretty nice. Navy Blue, Maroon, Gray, Black and Lavender. All great colors for a snazzy sweater or scarf.

As long as I’ve brought up the subject of color, this is probably a good time to talk about consumption techniques. There are those people who like to eat M&Ms by color. Eating your candies by color of course makes sense with Skittles where they’re different flavors. But M&Ms are not. Still, when I dump a bunch out on my desk for snacking, I divide them up by color. Plain M&Ms are consumed in lots of three, all the same color and when I get to the end, there are particular pairings of colors that are acceptable. I have no idea why I do this, but I’m guessing it’s a way of taking full advantage of the colors as a feature.

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Anyway, these are darker-than-milk chocolate M&Ms. Their colors are bright and shells crunchy but the centers are strangely grainy. Not grainy in the sense of the sugar is not completely dissolved, they’re grainy like someone left some ground up oyster shells in them. They’re slightly less sweet than the regular plain M&Ms and do have a bit more complex, chocolatey flavor. But they somehow lack the punch of a regular M&M. I wouldn’t mind them trying this chocolate on the Almond M&Ms, but I don’t really think they work in this format. Maybe the Peanut ones are better (Writers & Artists Snacking at Work liked them). There’s little benefit here either for Vegans or those with nut allergies as it’s not a suitable candy for either. I also resent dark chocolate being represented as evil. I mean, as candy goes, it’s more pure.

For the record, the colors are: Dooku Blue, Grievous Silver, Emperor Red, Vader Black & Maul Purple.

More timely reviews around the blogosphere - Toys are Good Food & Joshilyn Jackson.

Related Candies

  1. Mint Crisp M&Ms (Indiana Jones)
  2. Skittles Chocolate Mix
  3. M&Ms Razzberry - Limited Edition
  4. Cherry Almondine M&Ms
  5. M&Ms Line
  6. M&M Pirate Pearls
Name: Darth M&Ms
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: 99 Cent Only
Price: $.50
Size: 3.14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 146
Categories: Chocolate, United States, Mars, Limited Edition

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:29 am    

Monday, December 19, 2005

Food Art: M&Ms

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Mmmm, M&M balls. Though this one looks like it’s been rolling around for a while. Visit Nir Adar for more food porn by the excellent food photographer and artist. (Found via Slashfood.)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:24 am     ReviewMarsM&MsFun StuffNewsPhotography

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Photos: Mini M&Ms


—from inajeep - on Flickr

I love eating candy but I think one of the things that makes it so appealing is the look of it. There are a lot of great photographers out there taking awesome shots of candy.

Of course one of the best things about candy is the continuity, I love a whole frame filled with the same thing, sweets!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:33 am     M&MsNewsPhotography

Monday, October 3, 2005

Short & Sweet: Caramello /  Mega M&Ms / Orange Kisses

Some folks have written or commented that I try other candies and ask why some haven’t been covered here. With only a few exceptions this blog contains candies that are new to me. But I recognize that not only is the world a finite place but that I’m also excluding a lot of fine candies that you may not be familiar with on the blog.

So, I’ll try to catch up with some tried and true candies or just new iterations of old favorites with this new feature: Short & Sweet. Just a brief on the candy and my rating and hopefully a photo.

Name: Caramello
Brand: Cadbury
Place Purchased: 7-11
Price: $.85
Size: 1.6 ounce
Calories per ounce: 131
Type: Chocolate/Caramel

After the recent introduction of the Nestle Crunch with Caramel and the Hershey’s with Caramel, someone suggested this bar. I hadn’t had one in years, so it was back to the store. The bar is a European style milk chocolate with four creamy caramel filled sections. The chocolate is very sweet and milky and the caramel has a good burn sugar/salty taste to it. Not a true chewy caramel, it’s a good balance for the sweet chocolate.

Rating - 6 out of 10

Name: Mega M&Ms
Brand: Mars
Place Purchased: 7-11
Price: $1.25
Size: 2.87 ounce
Calories per ounce: 139
Type: Chocolate

 

Just a larger sized morsel of chocolate, the Mega M&M also sports a different range of colored shells. The oddest part about these candies is that the colors reminded me of 1986. I don’t know why, I’m not sure that they were fashionable colors then or not, but they remind me of college. My college colors (they were Green & Gold) aren’t even among these, so it doesn’t even make sense.

Aside from that they’re just big M&Ms. Imagine a Peanut M&M without the peanut and you’ll have a mega. The thing I miss in these megas is the ability to cleave the shell off with my eye teeth. Maybe I just need more practice.

Rating - 8 out of 10

Name: Orange Cream Kisses
Brand: Hershey’s
Place Purchased: found them on my desk
Price: unknown, but probably the same price as other Kisses
Type: White Chocolate

 

These are quite the little cuties and fill a niche that I’ve not really seen before in mass-consumer candies. You know, flavored white chocolate. The only other flavored white chocolate candy I can think of are those pastel misty mints. They smell a bit like aspergum (I’m sorry, I compare a lot of orange flavored things to aspergum, I blame my mother for giving me the dastardly stuff when I was a kid), but have a good approximation of a creamsicle - creamy white chocolate with a hint of orange essence.

I think they’d be fun to eat with cookies or within a mix of other Kisses, but I can’t imagine eating a whole bag of them.

Rating - 6 out of 10

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:38 pm     CandyReviewCadburyHershey'sMarsCaramelChocolateLimited EditionM&MsWhite Chocolate6-Tempting8-TastyUnited States

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Head-to-Head: Smarties vs. M&Ms

Yes, in the continuing quest to not only bring you the best and worst candies in the world, I’m going to educate you on the subtleties between our seemingly identical candy choices.

Today I’m tackling the UK product, Smarties, which is made my Nestle and the American product M&Ms which are made by Mars.

 

First, a little background (some of this I only know vaguely so feel free to correct me). M&Ms were originally developed as a candy for soldiers to give them quick energy in combat situations and be easy to carry. Some people wonder what M&M stands for, and many think it’s for the Mars brothers, but in reality it’s Forrest Mars, Sr. and Bruce Murrie. Murrie’s father was one of Hershey’s trusted partners at the company and provided the chocolate inside M&Ms until the 70s.

As with most UK treats under the Nestle name, they were originally made by Rowntree which was later swallowed up by the growing Nestle corporation. Developed several years before the M&M, Smarties are still one of the most popular candies in the UK. The UK version are purported to have orange chocolate flavored orange Smarties (and back when there was a brown Smartie it was mocha flavored) but I am using Canadian Smarties for this head to head.

 

First, Smarties are slightly bigger than M&Ms. An M&M is approximately 1 cm in diameter while the Smartie is 1.5 cms.

 

However, the Smartie is slightly flatter than the M&M. I didn’t weigh them.

 

The most noticeable difference between the two is the candy shell. The Smartie shell is much thicker and has a very pronounced crunch to it. It also seems to have a flavor. When I looked at the ingredients for the Smarties, I saw that there is wheat flour (and cornstarch & sugar) in the shell whereas the M&M shell is made only of sugar, cornstarch and color. The Smartie has a slightly graham cracker taste to it. It’s pleasant and perhaps a little cinnamonny (I know there’s no cinnamon in it). The M&M provides more chocolate punch. I guess geometry would tell me that even if the mass of the Smartie is the same as an M&M it still has more shell by virtue of being less spherical.

As appearances go, they’re both exceptionally pretty candies. Given a choice between the two, I prefer less shell and more chocolate. In reality I usually buy Almond M&Ms more often than the plain ones, but if someone puts a bowl in front of me, I can hardly resist. But I can see that there would be times that I’d crave the cookie-like taste of the Smarties.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:16 am     CandyReviewMarsNestleChocolateM&MsUnited KingdomUnited StatesHead to Head

Page 6 of 6 pages ‹ First  < 4 5 6

Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.

 

 

 

 

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