Who is M&M’s owned by, and what does the ‘M’ in M&M’s stand for?

M&M's candy scattered around and M&M's bag
Alistair McLellan from Pixabay

Since 1941, people around the world have indulged in the sugar-coated bite-sized chocolate pieces that “melt in your mouth, not in your hands.” 

For nearly a century, M&M’s has dominated the candy industry thanks in large part to its delicious recipe but also its savvy marketing skills, which includes the company’s famous and adored “spokescandies.” We know them as the red, green, yellow, blue, orange, brown, and purple M&M’s who have won over the hearts of millions through their various advertisements, commercials, campaigns, and music videos. 

As M&M’s evolved over time, so did its “spokescandies.” In Jan. 2022 the company announced a new and improved look to its colorful crew, incorporating modern touches to compliment the current times. This did not go over well with everybody, however, and before long pockets of people grew irate over the company’s “woke” changes. Specifically, the removal of the green M&M’s go-go boots and her “de-sexification.”

Tucker Carlson over at Fox News largely spearheaded the effort, and while his intention and the intention of others may have been to return the M&M’s to their prior state, it had the opposite effect. On Jan. 23, 2023, M&M’s announced the retirement of “spokescandies,” adding actress and comedian Maya Rudolph in their place as the face of the new brand

Because of this, M&M’s has been thrown into the spotlight unlike ever before. People want to know more about the company. How did it get started? Who is the owner? And what on earth does M&M’s even stand for? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Who is the owner of M&M’s?

(L) Forrest Mars and (R) Frank Mars side by side
Image via YouTube/Hook

M&M’s is the flagship product of Mars Wrigley Confectionery, a division of Mars, Incorporated. Remember the Mars Bars? Yup, that deliciously famous caramel-coated chocolate bar is one of many siblings of the M&M’s, born and raised in the same family as the Milky Way bar, Snickers, Three Musketeers, Twix, and Skittles. 

While M&M’s may be owned by Mars, Incorporated, the origin of its creation is tied to two men, father and son duo Frank and Forrest Mars. After falling out of his father’s good graces in the mid-1930s, Forrest Mars packed his bags and moved to England where he started experimenting with new products to expand Mars, Incorporated internationally. The Milky Way bar and the Snickers bar wasn’t enough. He wanted something even bigger. That’s when he invented the Mars Bar. 

Around that time Forrest traveled to Spain where he discovered the anti-melting benefits of chocolate coated in sugar. Deciding to strike up a deal with an unlikely partner, Forrest approached Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey’s executive William Murrie. Together they created M&M’s and for a short while it was Hershey’s chocolate that was used in M&Ms’ recipe, according to History

Today, the CEO/Office of the President at Mars, Incorporated is Poul Weihrauch, who bounced around the company in several high-profile positions since 2000, according to the company’s website

What does M&M’s stand for?

M&Ms candy controversy, explained
Image via Mars, Inc.

For a brand that is so well-known, the origin of its name is far less familiar. Wild guesses have been made, but we’re here to set the record straight. 

M&M’s stands for Mars and Murrie and is named after the company’s two founders Forrest Mars and Bruce Murrie. The men met in the mid-1930s and put their heads together, blending experience and entrepreneurial skills to create one of the candy industry’s most popular brands. Forrest Mars used his experience in creating the Mars Bar to think outside the box, whereas Bruce Murrie used his background as the son of a Hershey’s executive to lend his confectionary expertise.

Together they’ve gone down in history as the two M’s in M&M’s. The rest, as they say, is history. Or, in light of recent developments, controversy.