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The purple M&M – the story of the lost prince of candy

If you’re one of those people who, when opening a package of M&Ms, try to sort their candies in little groups by color, so that they form a cute rainbow, you probably have noticed that there just isn’t a purple color to come after the blue – as in a real rainbow. You probably have wondered why there just isn’t a purple M&M, out of so many colorful options. Well, you’re not alone, for this is one of the most frequently asked questions around the Internet concerning the candy industry. And here’s the long pursued answer that happens to be quite the story of this “lost prince” of the M&M kingdom, as the royal color suggests.

In the early years of M&M

Initially, when Forrest Mars, the son of the creator of the Milky way chocolate bars, made M&Ms in 1941, purple was abiding among the original colors. However, in 1949 there was a major change in the color palette of the M&Ms and purple was replaced with…TAN. This brownish color is in no way better than purple, but until today there weren’t found any good explanations about this change. Apparently, it will stay shrouded in mystery, almost sounding like an unjust usurpation of the throne of candy. 

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A democratic decision

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However, in 1995, the company came to their senses (better late, than never), and in the style of democracy they held an open vote in America, so that their consumers can decide what color to replace the tan M&M with. The candidates were pink, blue and … purple. The result of that vote is obvious today. There is an extract from a New York chronicle news services:

“1995-03-30 04:00:00 PDT New York — M&M lovers will soon have the blues. The results of a two-month campaign to choose a new color were unveiled yesterday, and blue won with 54 percent of the more than 10 million votes cast. It beat out pink and purple for the honor.

This summer, the blue candies will replace tan in bags of plain M&M’s. Blue will replace orange in almond and peanut butter M&M’s, and it will be added to peanut M&M’s without displacing a color.”

The purple royal-hued candy was once again banished from the candy world. But this is not where his journey ends.

A global question

In 2002 the candy maker decided to hold a global vote for the introduction of a new color to the candy palette, choices being aqua, pink and purple. This time our royal-colored racer was the victor, claiming 41 per cent of the popular vote. Two hundred countries took part in the selection. After years of exile, the purple M&M once again rejoiced. However, life always takes unexpected turns and things don’t go as we want them to. The vote turned out to be only for a limited time promotion, and soon after it was sold out, the purple candy was once again removed from the standard package.


Where is he now?

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Although the mysterious prince of M&Ms isn’t under the spotlights in stores, you can still find it in some rare seasonal color mixes. You just need to keep an eye out for it, and you might just have the opportunity to take a bite of filled with intricacies and chocolate history of candy. 

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