Don’t mess with my M&M’s!
My world has been turned upside down.
M&M’s have been my favorite candy since my childhood. I remember eating them with abandon while at camp in Minnesota. On our days off, my fellow counselors and I would go to the grocery store in town and eat all the junk food we could amass. M&M’s were my pick every time, a staple in my diet that ranked as high as milk or vegetables.
My friends are well aware of my addiction. On my 40th birthday, I received a cookie jar filled to the brim with peanut M&M’s. I kept digging my hand into the jar until they were gone: I must have gained five pounds from that splurge. And I wasn’t good at sharing. (I’m usually generous, but not when M&M’s or coffee-chip ice cream is at stake).
I have watched with selfish interest as the Mars Company, maker of the M&M, has tinkered with the basic concept. Originally distributed to soldiers during World War II, the milk chocolate candies were later joined by peanut (1954), almond (1988), peanut butter (1990) and crisped-rice (1998) candies. Mini, mega and dark chocolate M&M’s were more recently introduced.
And then there are the seasonal varieties. For instance, during the winter holidays, mint chocolate gems make an appearance. Around Easter and Halloween special colors dot the grocery shelves. (By the way, I’m convinced that pastel colors DO taste different than the traditional red, brown, yellow and orange, even though the company says otherwise).
And now this.
Premium M&Ms. Shimmering and translucent, in trendy flavors – mocha, raspberry almond, triple chocolate, mint and chocolate almond. The original chocolate coating, invented by Kansas City’s own Midwest Research Institute, is nowhere to be found. And instead of the familiar colorful plastic bags, these come in fancy boxes with a see-through window on the front. While the hefty price is in line with other premium candies on the market, they are simply too expensive to be used as poker chips or even as filler in living room vases, as some consumers have done for years.
How do they compare in taste? I guess they’re okay … if you’re into wax.
Remember New Coke? The Atlanta-based conglomerate wanted to shake things up so they tinkered with the original formula by sweetening it. The switch was such an abysmal failure that after public outcry, New Coke was replaced by its predecessor.
Though Mars Company is attempting to appeal to a broader constituency by offering a more upscale product, it isn’t likely to replace the M&Ms we all know and can’t live without. I predict that Premium M&Ms will go the way of New Coke—not down the hatch, but into oblivion.
Previously published in the Independent magazine.
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