The Interesting History of Red M&M’s

Name chocolate that starts with the letter M. Perhaps, and the most common answers would be M&M’s chocolate. Who doesn’t hear and tasted it anyway? M & Ms chocolate is one of the most famous sweet treats in the world, the most popular movie treats next to popcorn, and always present during Halloween’s trick or treat.

“The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand” the chocolate’s tagline that came about in 1949 became famous. And the chocolate had gone beyond being soldiers’ candy chocolate during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. It was processed through a particular method, making it not quickly melted in warmer climates and temperatures.

History of M&M’s

Forrest Mars, Sr. son of Frank C. Mars, the founder Mars Company, got the inspiration and copied the idea from the Smarties chocolates that the soldiers were eating during the Spanish Civil War. The chocolate pellets had colored shells created using what confectioners call hard panning to prevent melting.

On March 3, 1941, Mars received a patent for his process. The chocolate production began in 1941 in a factory located at 285 Badger Avenue in Clinton Hill, Newark, New Jersey. The company initially was named M&M Limited, which represents the names of the founder of Newark Company, Forrest E. Mars Sr., and Bruce Murrie, the son of William F. R. Murrie, Hershey Chocolate’s president. Hershey’s had a 20 percent share in the product. The treats were initially sold in cardboard tubes, but by 1948 the packaging changed to the plastic pouch we know today.

Based on the arrangement, the chocolates were to be made with Hershey chocolate, as it had control of the rationed chocolate during that period.

The U.S. Army was the company’s first big customer. The invention allowed soldiers to carry chocolate in tropical climates without it quickly melting and becoming messy when eaten. The candy chocolates were exclusively sold to the military during World War II. The demand had increased the production that made the company moved its factory to bigger quarters at Newark, New Jersey, where it remained until 1958 when it moved to a bigger factory at Hackettstown. In 1978, the company opened its second factory in Cleveland, Tennessee.

The colorful story of M&Ms colors

This M &M’s tiny, button-shaped, chocolates with printed lower-case letter “m” originally comes in colors, red yellow, violet, green, and brown. But the colors also had colorful journeys and adventures.

In 1954, peanut M&M’s were introduced but only in tan color. In 1960, yellow, red, and green colors were added. In 1976, the red M&Ms were eliminated and replaced with orange.

There was a public controversy surrounding FD&C Red No.2, a synthetic dye, also known as amaranth. The dye was used as a red food coloring linked to cancer in a 1971 Russian study. There were demands from the public that the U.S. government should confirm the dye’s safety as Red No.2 was used as a food color to many food products in the U.S. like hot dog casings and ice cream, etc. However, there were inconclusive test results from the Food and Drug Administration in humans, yet found to cause malignant tumors in female rats.

The FDA resolved that the food colorant could not be presumed safe for human consumption and was banned in 1976. The banning of the said colorant also resulted in the disappearance of the red M&M’s, suggesting they were also one of the Red No. 2 users. But there were no risks to consumers from red M&M’s.

According to, the red food coloring in question was not used in M&M’s chocolate candies; however, to avoid consumer confusion, the red candies were pulled from the color mix.

Mars decided to remove the red colored chocolates in the packs of M&Ms due to the fear that worried shoppers would steer clear of M&M’s altogether if the bags contained anything red. It was then replaced with orange M&Ms because of the red scare.

More additional colors

It’s just hard to resist these colorful M&Ms. We often enjoy them as an ornament to our desserts. It’s not bad that red was once eliminated as it is already back in the mix today. But did you know that there are many other colors to choose besides Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Dark Brown that are available in a regular bag of M&M’s?

Yes! M&Ms has almost 25 colors available today. There are unique colored M&M’s in Amazon that you can shop anytime.