Sweet Variety of M&Ms Candies

When I was a kid, M&Ms came in two kinds:  plain and peanut.  The biggest controversy about M&Ms was the removal of the red M&Ms in 1976 because of the red dye #2 scare.  In 1995 the brown M&Ms were replaced by blue M&Ms.  That pretty much summed up the changes in M&Ms until 2004 when M&Ms started appearing in lots of different seasonal colors and varieties.  Today, the sweet variety of M&Ms changes frequently.  Several newer flavors are now available year round.

Have you noticed the proliferation of the sweet variety of M&Ms?  I really started paying attention last year when we drove across the United States for our summer assignment.  Every truck stop and convenience store seemed to have a different flavor of M&Ms.  I started collecting them and sent a variety pack back to Ohio to my parents and to John and Jackie.  Ever since then, I collect flavors of M&Ms, noticing their seasonal flavors as well as colors.

Plain (milk chocolate) M&M’s were first produced in 1941 for the U.S. military.  Forrest Mars, Sr copied the idea when he saw British soldiers during the Spanish Civil War eating Smarties, chocolate pellets with a colored coating.  The coating, hardened sugar syrup, prevented the chocolate inside from melting.  Mars received a patent for the candy in 1941 and started production.
The name of the candy comes from his name, and that of Bruce Murrie from Hershey Chocolate.  Hershey was the only company allowed to make chocolate during World War II.  The U.S. Army saw the candies as a way for soldiers to carry chocolate in tropical climates and the candies were exclusively sold to the military.  Once the war was over, there was a huge increase in demand for M&Ms.  The most famous M&M tagline was released in 1949, and most of us recognize “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”  Mars introduced peanut M&Ms in 1954.
400 million M&Ms are currently produced each day and the sweet variety seems endless.  In the last year I have seen and tried white chocolate, triple chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, candy corn, and espresso coffee nut.  I especially like the peanut butter and the pretzel M&Ms.  Dark Chocolate, almond, and caramel M&Ms are easy to find in stores.
Right now the Mars Company is sponsoring a contest to choose your favorite crunchy flavor.  The three contenders – raspberry, espresso, and mint – are easy to find in stores.  Then you can go online and vote for your favorite.  You don’t get anything for voting, but you can share your vote on Facebook and Twitter.
I like M&Ms.  I like some of the new flavors.  But the sweet variety of the candies sometimes makes me long for the good old days when choices were limited and easier.
What about you?  Do you like M&Ms?  Have you tried any of the new flavors?  What is your favorite variety?