Related themes

Everyday Marvels

Explore some of the humble but revolutionary objects that have changed the way we interact with and engage in the world.


Forrest Mars
(American, 1904–1999)

1939. Milk chocolate coated with a candy shell, 3/8 x diam. 1/2" (1 x 1.3 cm)

Although no one is certain the tale is true, legend has it that Forrest Mars, Sr.―the first M in M&Ms―visited Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), where he saw soldiers eating small chocolates with a hard, sugary coating that prevented the candies from melting. In 1940 Mars made his own batch of chocolate candy pellets, inventing the recipe for M&Ms. He brought his idea to the Hershey Corporation, and a partnership was formed. The design was patented on March 3, 1941. That year, M&M®, Ltd. began production in Newark, New Jersey, and the first M&Ms® went on sale.

At first they were sold in cardboard tubes and marketed to the military as a snack that could travel well in different climates. Many soldiers in World War II ate these candies. By the late 1940s, M&Ms were widely available to the public. The popular slogan, “It melts in your mouth, not in your hands” was trademarked in 1954. In 1981, M&Ms went to outer space when space-shuttle astronauts brought M&Ms with them on their flight.1

ibid. page 87.

M&Ms by the Numbers
The M&M Mars factory in New Jersey produces approximately two billion M&Ms every eight hours.