The untold truth of Twix

When it comes to the candy you really hope to see in the kids' Halloween haul (or, let's face it, you're an adult and you can go trick-or-treating if you want to), Twix is at the top of the list. It's the perfect mix of chocolatey and crunchy, and those two narrow sticks means that not only does it make you feel like you're getting twice as much, but it's easier to eat without making a mess. It's a win-win!

Oh... and it's easy to share with a friend, too, so there's that. 

Twix has been a staple on grocery store shelves and candy racks for a long time, and it's possible you don't even really think about it anymore... except to enjoy it. But it's got a fascinating story behind it. And it's a lot more popular than you might think. In fact, in 2017, Statista says more than $63 million worth of Twix flew off American shelves. Clearly, it's a favorite in the good ol' US of A, but did you also know that it's actually not American at all? Read on for some more Twix trivia! This is the untold truth of Twix.

The origin of the name Twix is uncertain

We're so familiar with it that the name "Twix" has ceased to be weird, but it is a pretty strange name when you think about it. It's not like Snickers or Almond Joy — those are real words that make sense. So what's with Twix? It doesn't seem to mean anything, and it's not really related to what's in the wrapper... or, is it?

According to Mental Floss, it's thought that the name is actually a portmanteau. Essentially, a portmanteau is a word that's made from two other words. Think of "brunch" — that comes from "breakfast" and "lunch." What's Twix from? No one really seems sure, but it's likely either a combination of "twin" and "stix" or "twin" and "mix." "Mix" doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense at first glance, but some of the earliest marketing campaigns stressed the mix of goodness beneath the chocolate coating, so it's a possibility. 

And strangely, it wasn't even called Twix in most European countries. It hit the shelves as the even more oddly-named Raider, until it was changed to Twix in 1991. According to Berlin Sidewalk, Mars brought back the Raider label for a bit of nostalgia during its 30th anniversary, but now, it's all Twix, all the time.

Twix is pretty new, and not American

Some candy bars are the sort of thing that gets shared between the generations. Take Toblerone. Culture Trip says that's been around since 1908, and that's long enough to become a family tradition. By comparison, Twix is pretty much a baby.

History of Things says it was created in 1967, and it didn't come out of America, but of the Mars factory in an English town called Slough. (That's also where they made other popular candies like Snickers and Starburst.)

Twix didn't even make it to American shores for years. In fact, it wasn't until 1979 that Americans finally got a taste of what would become a national favorite. But that was a long time coming — by the early 80s, Mars was looking for a way to make Twix more popular, and that's when peanut butter Twix first came on the scene. The rest is, as they say, history. Tasty, tasty history.

Twix aren't all they used to be

If you haven't had a Twix in a while, you might be tempted to pick one up after reading about them. But here's the thing: they might look a little smaller than they used to, and it might not be your imagination.

Appliance City polled both people in the US and in the UK, and asked them if they thought their favorite candy bars were smaller than they were before. Of the 500 Americans they asked, about 48 percent thought their candy was smaller. Of the same number of Brits, almost 80 percent believed the same thing.

When it comes to Twix, they were right. In the 1980s, a Twix bar in the UK was 60 grams. In the 2010s, though, that had dropped to 50 grams.

They're not the only candy bar that's slimming back (Reese's Peanut Butter Cups have also gone on a diet). Why are some of these candies being scaled back? They suggest there's a few reasons for the change: selling smaller candy bars increases profits, of course, but there's also the ever-increasing health concerns that come with our 21st century world. Is it for your own good? You decide.

Is there meat in your Twix?

So, you're a vegetarian who loves Twix. That's great! But Twix was also involved in something that should serve as a bit of a cautionary tale for you — not all products are created equal across the globe.

In 2007, the BBC was reporting on some serious outrage: Mars had announced they were going to be adding rennet to their UK ingredient list, and it was going to be showing up in candy bars like Twix, Milky Way, and Bounty. Rennet — which comes from the stomachs of calves — definitely isn't vegetarian.

The backlash was so loud that just a week later, The Guardian reported that the situation had gotten even more confusing. Mars reversed their decision on some of their products — like Snickers and Mars — but said other candy bars would still be unsuitable for vegetarians. That included Twix, along with Milky Way and Bounty. To add to the confusion, hundreds of thousands of candy bars had already been made with rennet, and they added they couldn't promise anyone was going to be getting a vegetarian candy for a long time. 

Fast forward to 2022, and the UK grocery chain Sainsbury's says that Twix are suitable for vegetarians... but still, there's an important lesson here. If you're going on vacation and have dietary requirements, don't assume the products you get abroad are the same as what you get at home.

Twix has given their name to a controversial practice in Germany

When a decades-old product gets a makeover and a new name on the packaging, you might expect what's inside to be a little different, too. Better, even. But that's not what happened across much of Europe when Raider was rebranded to be in line with their American counterpart, Twix. And people totally called them out on it.

According to History of Things, the change came in 1991. The packaging already looked sort of similar, and the ad campaign that ran along with the name change featured the slogan: "Raider is now Twix, nothing else changes."

People weren't having any of it, and completely called the company out. Accusations flew: the public firmly believed that it was a weak ploy to increase sales while not actually putting much work into the product. People were so outraged, in fact, that the term to "twix" has passed into popular German parlance. It's usually used in the financial or political world, and it essentially means trying to rebrand something without actually changing anything.

Twix got caught up in the Tide Pod challenge controversy

Remember when we had to tell all the kids to stop trying to eat Tide Pods? Yea, the world is a strange place. It's also possible that during the same time, you saw a viral meme going around that suggested Mars was capitalizing on the dangerous trend in about the worst way possible: by making Twix Pods. The photos showed bags of Twix Pods and Snickers Pods, which seemed to be exactly that — little pod-shaped versions of your favorite candies. Legit, or Photoshop?

According to Snopes, it was sort of legit... but there was a major catch. The Tide Pod challenge was one of the things that, sadly, helped define 2018. The Mars version had been manufactured since way back in 2005, and you'd have to go to Australia to find them. So, while there were Twix Pods, they didn't have anything to do with that dangerous viral sensation, and they definitely weren't trying to capitalize on the entire thing.

The '80s and '90s Twix ad campaigns were controversial

Sure, we all know that the 1980s and 1990s were a different time. They were filled with things like tie-dye and grunge, but they were also a time when Twix commercials were, shall we say, a little uncomfortable.

Look back at them now, and you'll find that some are very stalkerish. Remember the one with a group of high school boys gathering at their lockers and ogling a classmate? That's creepy, and even creepier is the title card that says, "Whoever said you can't get everything in life..." 

Yikes! It's no wonder that History of Things says that at the time, women's groups had a big problem with Twix, and condemned the idea that they were telling men to be seen eating Twix, and it would help them get any woman they wanted. Was it an overreaction? They also note that some of the slogans included things like "Let's Twix it together," and "Twix her!" It may have been a bit much by today's standards.

Twix got a little carried away with the right and left thing

You've probably seen those commercials that pit people who like the left Twix against those who prefer the right Twix. There is, of course, no difference, but if there's one thing we can all agree on about the human race, it's that we love to take sides. Not everyone was thrilled with the campaign, though — there was even an (albeit tiny) campaign on Change.org that was hoping to stop the entire thing.

And Twix went a long, long way with it. In 2018, they released the results of a study in which they asked Twix fans to fill out a personality questionnaire while examining them with facial recognition software. They compared the data to whether people said they were fans of the right Twix of the left one, and what did they find? Data points like this one: 70 percent of those who chose left Twix were dark-haired, and 72 percent of right Twix fans aren't blonde. Think those sound kind of like the same thing? That's the point.

The verdict? Michelle Deignan, Twix's Brand Director, had this to say: "The rivalry between Left Twix and Right Twix fans pushed us to dig deeper to define their characteristics. The findings are crystal clear — Twix fans are the same, but different, no matter which side you pick."

Yes, Twix are still made with child labor

For years, you've been hearing about how the big chocolate giants — Mars, Hershey, and Nestle — have been sourcing their chocolate from farms that rely on child labor. For years, they've been promising to rectify that. Have they? Not entirely.

When The Washington Post took a look at the issue in 2019, they found that of the hundreds of thousands of cocoa farms scattered across Ivory Coast, there were still a lot that used child labor. They spoke to some of the boys: the teens had been working on the farms for years, starting when some were just 10 years old. They'd been lured there by the promise of schooling and education, but their reality was very different.

The world's major chocolate companies have been on deadlines before: they were supposed to get child labor out of the supply chain in 2005, in 2008, and in 2010. They absolutely didn't, and made no promises that it was going to happen.

That's shocking, and here's something even more shocking: Mars can't even tell you where the chocolate on your Twix bar came from. They're only able to trace about 24 percent of their chocolate back to the farms it came from, and that makes it impossible to guarantee a child laborer wasn't involved in making your favorite afternoon treat.

Twix's sustainability score is dismal

If you're concerned about the environment, you might want to think twice about picking up a Twix... for now, at least. In 2014, Monga Bay reported that Mars had made a promise to convert all palm oil in their supply chain to only that which was responsibly sourced, and which came from plantations that didn't contribute to deforestation. Greenpeace said they had confirmed the commitment officially by the end of the year, and promised that by 2015, everything would be on the up-and-up.

Fast forward to 2020, and the palm oil statement on the Mars web site had changed a little bit, and the projected date to be deforestation-free had been moved to the end of that year. 

Sustainability report card site Rank A Brand was less than impressed with their progress, and gave Twix a D when it came to sustainability. That wasn't just because of their stance on palm oil, either — they had fallen behind when it came to things like using renewable energy sources, reducing greenhouse gases, and minimizing the environmental impacts of packaging.

Twix is a brilliant ingredient in some simply delicious desserts

If you can't get enough of Twix, we have good news for you — they're not just brilliant as a candy bar, but there are some amazing desserts you can make with them, too!

Like what? Well, if you've never cut up some Twix, mixed them into brownie mix, and baked up a batch, you're seriously missing out. It doesn't matter if you like the standard sort of brownies, the dark chocolate, or even a delicious blondie, add some chopped Twix and drizzle the top with caramel and you have a super easy, super delicious dessert that everyone will love.

You can also use them in a no-bake pie. You know the old standby: a crushed vanilla wafer or graham cracker crust, a Cool Whip or ice cream filling... add in a layer of chopped Twix next time, and your easy dessert just got more delicious.

Trifle is another dessert that's incredibly versatile. It's usually made with layered custard and fruit in its most traditional form, but here's a tip: take the same layered concept and use crushed shortbread cookies, chocolate mousse, chopped Twix, and a drizzle of chocolate syrup on the top. Win, right?