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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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M&Ms ad from 1947, when product had clear cellophane packaging
M&Ms® ad from 1947, when M&Ms® had see-through cellophane packaging. Courtesy M&M/MARS


This candy manufacturer has a history of community involvement in Hackettstown, where it has been headquartered since 1958. Throughout the year, M&M/MARS Candies supports children's festivities by partnering with community organizations to disperse its candies, bring walking "M" Characters for special appearances, and provide prizes and gifts. Among popular local events are the Hackettstown Chocolate Festival during Halloween weekend; the Easter Egg Hunt held on the company's plant premises for more than 2,000 area children and their families; and the employee Easter Basket Contest, in which candy and toy-filled baskets are donated to local charities. The company also hosts an annual antique car show, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Other involvement includes activities at the Spring Festival; fund raising at the Hackettstown Hospital Cotillion; and sponsoring one of the local Little League teams.

The roots of M&M/MARS can be traced to 1911, when Frank C. Mars and his wife began making buttercream candies in the kitchen of their Tacoma, Washington, home. Operations moved to Minneapolis in 1923, where the MILKY WAY® Bar was produced and became an instant success. In 1926, the company moved to a new plant outside Chicago where the MARS® Almond Bar, 3 MUSKETEERS® Bar and SNICKERS® Bar were introduced.

Founded in 1940 as M&M Limited by Forrest E. Mars, Sr. (son of Frank Mars) in Newark, the company began by manufacturing "M&M's"® Plain Chocolate Candies. These new confections were conceived as a neater, more convenient way to eat chocolate. During World War II, they were included in American soldiers' C rations because they withstood extreme temperatures. In the hot tropics, these candies were especially practical. After the introduction of "M&M's"® Peanut Chocolate Candies in 1954, the combined success of the two candies eventually required a larger manufacturing facility, and the firm moved to its Hackettstown plant.

Documentation includes a short text report, illustrated wrappings of candies from 1941 through 1984, a newspaper clipping, three photographs, and a 1950s advertising poster.

Originally submitted by: Marge Roukema, Representative (5th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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