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An aging snack that’s still on top

March 10, 2016
By Joyce Schenk , Westfield Republican

There are many things in life that get better with age. Wine is one. Some cheeses, too, profit from aging.

Candy, however, is generally not on the list of edibles that improve over time.

I learned the truth of that statement years ago on a balmy summer day when I was twelve. I discovered a Hershey bar I had hidden away in a dresser drawer at Christmas time.

I was sure this tempting treasure had reached perfection by now. I couldn't wait to savor that wonderful chocolaty flavor.

But, when I bit into the antique confection, I learned my favorite candy bar does not age well.

I thought of that experience recently when I read an article that announced, "M&Ms Turn 75."

No, I don't think a 75-year old package of that tasty snack that "melts-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand" would still be yummy today. But those of us who love the colorful chocolate-filled treats (and there are legions of us) are delighted that M&Ms are still around for us to enjoy.

As with many such newspaper pieces, the fact that M&Ms is now at the three-quarters of a century mark got my curiosity fired up and I did some digging into the history of this sweet and colorful treat.

These convenient little candies were developed by the Mars Company at the request of the government as a portable chocolate treat for the services in WWII. They were first produced in 1941.

The candy's hard shell meant the chocolate inside didn't melt and was well-suited to oversees travel.

After the war, the men and women who were introduced to the little candies in the service were eager to have them available in civilian life. Mars began selling M&M's to the general public in 1947.

Now that M&Ms have reached the venerable age of 75, the manufacturers are kicking off a new and aggressive marketing campaign aimed at the latest generations of American snackers.

With ads accompanied by an updated version of the song Candyman, Mars is presenting both peanut and regular M&Ms in retro packaging from the candy's entire history, 1940s through the 1990s.

In addition, M&Ms will be sporting new colors, flavors and textures as well as new fillings. More subtle changes will involve natural, rather than artificial colors that will be phased in over the next five years, according to the manufacturer.

Another aggressive program underway by the candy maker is an entire segment of the business devoted to personalizing the candies for special occasions. With the claim of "Every day is a celebration with personalized candies," the company now offers the little treats imprinted with names, Happy Birthday, pictures of honorees, and such sentiments as "eat, drink and be married,". With the innovative folks at M&Ms, there's no limit to the ways the candies can be used to make an event festive.

Unlike that hidden Hershey bar of my childhood, today's M&Ms are fresh and tasty. Only the brand is celebrating its 75 years.

By the way, if you have a package of the original M&Ms that truly is 75 years old, I don't recommend you take a chance and eat them. Instead, put them on eBay.



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