The Strange Origin Of Snickers' Name

Ah, Snickers! One of the best popular candy bars out there has delighted the world with its nutty goodness since 1930, and it's so well-liked that the Mars company outright calls it the world's best-selling candy bar. As the Coca-Cola of candy, the name Snickers is so deeply ingrained in our culture that it's hard to actually stop and ask: What in the world does the name actually mean? Is it supposed to evoke imagery of quietly "snickering" at passersby, perhaps mocking their misfortune in not having a delicious candy bar? Does the word mean something profound in some strange language? Or did a group of marketing professionals simply determine that "Snickers" sounded like a great name for candy?

We'll state this as gently as we can: All of those theories are wrong. In fact, it turns out that the story behind the popular confectionery's moniker is even weirder than you might expect. Come, let's take a look at the strange origin of Snickers' name.  

It all started with a horse called Snickers

The story of Snickers may not have been introduced until 1930, but its foundations were laid in 1911, when Frank and Ethel Mars started a candy factory (via Rewind & Capture). Their first attempt at Candyland domination was unsuccessful, but their next venture, a proto-Mars, Inc. called the Mar-O-Bar Company, introduced the world to the immensely popular Milky Way bar.  

The couple's newfound success allowed them to buy a huge, 3,000-acre horse breeding farm in Tennessee, which they dubbed Milky Way Farm. The Mars' two interests collided in 1930, when Ethel's favorite horse died just before their company's new peanut candy bar went in production. The horse's name was Snickers, and the couple decided to name the candy bar in its honor.

Incidentally, Snickers isn't the only name the famous candy bar has had over the years. For the first 60 years of its existence, people of the U.K. knew the popular confectionery as the Marathon Bar. As the book Food and Drink in American History notes, the company went with the pseudo-healthy name because the original one unfortunately rhymed with "knickers," a British term for ladies' underwear. Over time, people became so accustomed to the Marathon name that when Mars decided to use uniform names for their products in 1990, some U.K. consumers refused to buy this suspicious, newfangled "Snickers" thing — despite the fact that the recipe was unchanged.