How NYC Celebrated The Introduction Of The Blue M&M

M&M's have gone through a series of color changes and variations over the years in addition to adding new flavors from peanut butter to fudge brownie. When the product was first introduced in 1941, the color scheme in a pack of the diminutive candies consisted of red, yellow, green, brown, orange, and violet. Tan M&M's then replaced purple in 1949. Peanut M&M's initially only came in tan after their 1954 launch. Red candies were swapped for orange in 1976 following a red dye scare but red later reemerged on the scene in 1987.

The previous decisions were made without public input, but in a shift towards candy democracy, M&M's devised a promotional campaign in 1995 requesting the people's feedback on what color should replace tan. Candidates on the ballot included pink, blue, and purple. Would purple resurrect its image and make a comeback? No, instead blue prevailed, and New York celebrated its win in an attention-grabbing way.

'Backing the blue'

More than 11 million people cast their votes during M&M's new color election and ultimately decided on blue to represent them in packs of the confection. In a nod to the winning shade of M&M's, New York City paid tribute by lighting up the top of the Empire State Building in blue at night. Standing at 1,454 feet tall, the Empire State Building is one of the highest structures in the world, so the message was sent loud and clear that blue had seized the day‚Äďand the hearts of the electorate (per Mars).

Inspired by the success of its national marketing efforts with blue M&M's, in 2002, Mars held the first ever global M&M's Chocolate Candy Vote to court the international vote in helping usher in a new candy color change. Hues on the card this time around included purple, aqua, or pink. When the approximately 10 million worldwide ballots had been counted, purple was not to be denied again, making its triumphant return after edging out its competitors. Then in 2018, M&M's shifted gears to holding a flavor vote, with citizens choosing Crunchy Mint over Crunchy Espresso and Crunchy Raspberry (via M&M's). The Mars-owned candy continues to innovate and listen to fans, unveiling a Nut Brownie Mix in 2022 that drew praise on social media.