From: SNOPES%MRGPRE%Health_Net@mcimail.com (SNOPES)
Subject: M&M's Chocolate Candies FAQ list
Date: 13 May 1993 18:34:40 -0500
Not surprisingly, it turns out that the M&M/MARS company receives so many
inquiries about their "M&M's" Chocolate Candies product that they maintain
and distribute a FAQ list! And here it is:
Imagine a world where everything was black and white. How would you ever
begin to describe emotions, events or appearances? Without color, you couldn't
have the blues, paint the town red or feel in the pink. Color also enhances
our perceptions of foods. A meal or snack with an appetizing color combination
is appealing to all of our senses. In fact, without color, eating would be a
very dull event.
Each year M&M/MARS receives many inquiries about the festive colors of its
products, especially "M&Ms" Chocolate Candies. Here are some of the most
frequently asked questions and our answers:
Q: What is the percentage of each color in "M&M's" Chocolate Candies?
A: On average, "M&M's" Plain Chocolate Candies and our new "M&M's" Mint
Chocolate Candies contain 30% browns, 20% each of yellows and reds and
10% each of oranges, greens, and tans. For "M&M's" Peanut Chocolate
Candies, the ratio is 20% each of browns, yellows, reds, greens and
oranges. We use the same ratio for our "M&M's" Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Candies and "M&M's" Almond Chocolate Candies.
Q: Are they the same in every bag?
A: While we mix the colors as thoroughly as possible, the above ratios may
vary somewhat, especially in the smaller bags. This is because we combine
the various colors in large quantities for the last production stage
(printing). The bags are then filled on high-speed packaging machines
by weight, not by count.
Q: How did you determine these ratios?
A: Our color blends are determined by conducting consumer preference tests,
which indicate the assortment of colors that pleases the greatest number
of people and creates the most attractive overall effect.
Q: Why are there no tan "M&M's" Peanut Chocolate Candies?
A: In consumer preference tests, we found that the five-colored blend --
without the tan -- was preferred for the larger peanut candy pieces. The
same holds for the almond and peanut butter varieties.
Q: Why are there so many browns?
A: The color blend was found to be the most suitable and pleasing for a
Q: What about "M&M's" Brand HOLIDAYS Chocolate Candies?
A: At certain times of the year, we produce and sell this product in festive
colors appropriate to the season in addition to the regular "M&M's" which
are available year-round. Presently, "M&M's" Brand HOLIDAYS Chocolate
Candies are available four times a year. The percentages of each color is
-- "Valentine's": 50% red, 50% cream.
-- "Easter": 20% each of pastel yellows, pastel blues, pastel greens,
pastel pinks and pastel purples.
-- "Red, White and Blue": 33.3% each of red, white, and blue.
-- "Christmas": 50% red, 50% green.
Q: Do you use natural or man-made colors?
A: We use man-made colors because they resist fading, impart no aftertaste
and have a consistent, strong hue so "a little goes a long way". They
are called "certified colors" because each batch is inspected by the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Q: Do you test these colors?
A: By law, these compounds must be extensively tested and approved centrally
by the FDA, not by individual users.
Q: Are they developed especially for you?
A: No, they are for use by all food manufacturers.
Q: Which colors do you use?
A: The FDA has permanently approved a range of food colors from which
M&M/MARS selects a certain number for producing our own special color
blend. The colors are declared by number on each wrapper.
Q: At one point, you dropped the red candies, then brought them back. Why?
A: Red "M&M's" were discontinued in 1976 due to concern over public
controversy surrounding a particular food coloring. We did not use that
controversial coloring to created red "M&M's", but we wanted to avoid
consumer confusion or misplaced concern. In 1987, red candies once again
appeared in the color blend of "M&M's" Chocolate Candies. We use red #40.
Q: Do the different colors taste alike?
Q: How do you put the "m" on every piece?
A: With a process similar to offset printing. The specially designed machines
are carefully calibrated so they don't crack the thin sugar shell.
Q: Is there anything special about green "M&M's"?
A: Although many consumers ask us about the special qualities of green "M&M's"
Chocolate Candies, we cannot explain any extraordinary "powers" attributed
to this color, either scientifically or medically.