February 28, 2023
By: Patrick Wu
Let’s face it, M&M’s are a B-tier candy AT BEST. It’s bad chocolate, it’s dusty, and it’s way too sweet. Yet, somehow, M&M’s is still one of the most recognizable food products around the world. And it’s all thanks to their spokescandies. From the countless TV ads, film cameos, and red carpet appearances, the M&M spokescandies have cemented themselves as premier cultural icons of our generation. But even as fictional characters made purely to promote candy, they’re no more immune to the societal controversies that come with celebrity status.
Courtesy of M&M's
The Birth of M&M’s Spokescandies
Not many people know, but M&M’s have been around for a while. Their timeline begins in 1930 during the Spanish Civil War, followed shortly afterward by becoming a popular treat amongst soldiers during WWII, and peaking in the 80s as the first candy NASA sends to space. But after fumbling a hot feature in E.T., M&M’s took a backseat to Reese’s Pieces (an objectively better candy). As more and more new candies were being introduced around the time, M&M’s were losing the cultural edge they once had against the rest of the competition. M&M’s needed something fresh, something new, something to stand out again. And just when things seemed most dire, enter the spokescandies.
The spokescandies launched as a last-ditch marketing effort to represent and promote the M&M brand. Starting out with just Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue, the spokescandies were an overnight success. Each odd-looking anthropomorphic M&M was equipped with a unique quirky personality that people could quickly become attached to and resonate with. Red was the hot-headed leader, Yellow was the comic relief, Blue was the cool and chill guy, and Green was…well, Green was just a girl. As the token female character of the bunch, she’d basically been relegated to having go-go boots and batting her eyelashes as a personality. But other than that, the spokescandies coasted through the 2000s on top of the industry. As more characters got added to the cast, the M&M universe and lore became an integral part of our society. At some point in the mid-2010s, it felt like you couldn’t go five ads on TV without seeing an M&M spokescandy cameo at least once.
Recent Controversy & Go-go Boots
But the M&M’s would soon be on everyone’s mind for a very different reason. And when the green M&M lost her go-go boots, the whole internet seemed to explode. Personally, I never understood why the green M&M’s sexual appeal mattered to so many people. As a candy mascot, it really shouldn’t matter whether she wears boots or sneakers. But after a year of controversy, M&M’s didn’t want to take the heat for the decision anymore. They launched a new trans spokescandy to quell the masses and show their support for greater general inclusivity amongst their candy cast. And eventually, they scrapped the spokescandies entirely in favor of a human spokesperson, Maya Rudolph. M&M’s had announced an indefinite pause on the spokescandies, and even ‘let them’ promote themselves on other platforms separate from the brand, an example being that the orange M&M was plastered all over Spotify ads promoting its personal playlist.
Courtesy of M&M's
But just when we’d thought we lost them for good. The spokescandies made a spectacular return on their home turf, the Super Bowl. In a mock news presser ad, the spokescandies announce that they are “back for good”, and seem to be ready to jump right back into the mix. Our beloved walking talking candies would be here to stay, but for how long? Although most of the world has gotten over the green M&M’s boots, who's to say what’ll be next? If everyone was so quick to get in a tizzy over a mascot’s shoes, the next scand(y)al could be just around the corner. Though mere cartoon candies, the M&M spokescandies have been through it all. From being “too sexy” to getting canceled to coming back to life, the story of these candies will live on in candy mascot history as one of the most tumultuous ones of all time.
Patrick Wu is a sophomore studying Finance at NYU Stern with a minor in BEMT. He’s an avid sports fan and you can always find him catching the latest basketball, football, soccer, or e-sports match.