Home / Resources / Logo Design Case Studies and History

The History Of The M&M Logo

Some candy is associated with certain times of the year. Think about it. Candy corn around Halloween, candy canes and peppermint patties around the holidays, and Peeps around spring. Other candies meet consumers no matter what the occasion or time of year is. A prime example of a candy that does this is M&M’s.  

Below we take a deeper dive into this iconic candy and look at how M&M’s have become one of the most recognizable candies in the world. 

Meet M&M’s

M&M’s were first made back in 1941 in the United States. Forrest Mars Sr. developed the concept of M&M’s after watching his father’s company flourish during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. During this war, Forrest watched soldiers eat Smarties and chocolate pellet-type candy. The candies had a hard outer shell that prevented them from melting, which allowed for the army to be able to consume this. 

Given Forrest’s inspiration, it makes sense that he developed this candy as the United States entered the Second World War. With the war, M&M’s were exclusively produced and distributed to the United States army because just like the candy he studied previously, his M&M’s did not melt in warm climates. Once the war ended, the candy was mass-produced for public consumption and the company took off. 

M&M’s Evolution

The 1940s-1970s: M&M’s production ramps-up

In March 1941, Forrest Mars Sr. received a copyright for his manufacturing process to develop M&M’s under the name M&M’s Ltd. The candy was first produced in Newark, New Jersey. The 2 “M’s” in the name stand for Forrest and Bruce Marie. Bruce was the son of William F.R. Murrie, the President of Hershey Chocolate. Bruce held a 20% stake in M&M’s Ltd. and their partnership allowed for Hershey Chocolate to produce the candy and provide capital, the chocolate for the product, manufacturing equipment, and engineers. This was a powerful collaboration given Hershey’s status as the leader in the chocolate industry. 

The first M&M’s candies featured a black “M” which was later upgraded to a white trademark “M.” M&M’s were first released in only one variety but in 1954, peanut M&Ms were released in one color (tan). Six years later peanut M&M’s expanded to include yellow, green, and red colors as well.

Image source

After M&Ms were produced exclusively for the United States Army, the demand for the candy grew. This caused the company to increase production and move to a larger production facility in New Jersey. The plant stayed here until 1958. In 1958, the company upgraded to a larger facility again, this time in Hackettstown. In 1978, there was a need to expand their production a third time, so a second factory was open in Cleveland, Tennessee. 

Image source

The 1980s: M&M’s continues to expand

apan, Australia, and Malaysia. During this period, the candy also embarked on their first widespread marketing campaign, called M&M’s Royals. This M&M’s varietal was a chocolate candy with a faint mint flavoring and instead of the standard “M” trademark, these candies were imprinted with a crown and came in brown and pale green colors. 

The M&M’s brand continued to grow its product line during this decade. The company re-introduced almond-center M&M’s in 1988. Previously these were released back but were recalled in 1960, so this new version was exclusively available during the Easter and Christmas holidays. This reintroduction of the almond version came on the coattails of their campaign to introduce other holiday-themed flavors of M&M’s in 1986. These were called “Holidays Chocolate” and the Christmas candies included either a candle, bell, or pine tree on red and green candy shells instead of the classic “M,” and the Easter candies included a bunny, egg, or chick on pastel colors instead of the trademark “M.”

The 1990s: M&M’s tailors their product line

By the ’90s, the company had a good handle on what its consumers wanted, and what they learned was that their customers wanted even more varieties. In 1991, the company introduced peanut butter M&M’s. Besides containing peanut butter as a filling, the colors were like the standard versions of M&M’s. Other changes included replacing tan M&M’s with the color blue in 1995, introducing M&M’s Minis in 1996 that were sold in plastic tubes, not bags, and introducing crispy M&M’s in 1999, which had a crispy wafer in the center. 

The 2000s: M&M’s experiments with flavor profiles

In the 2000s, M&M’s got creative with their flavors outside of their standard flavor profiles. In 2001, a dulce de leche version was released in markets with high Hispanic populations. These areas included San Diego, Los Angeles, San Antonio, McAllen-Brownsville, and Miami. This was M&M’s first attempt at trying to personalize their candies based on demographics, but unfortunately, the flavor never took off, so these areas stopped selling the candy by early 2003. 

The 2010s–Present: M&M’s grows beyond just candy offerings

Just like with other decades, the 2010s provided another decade where the company could experiment with flavors to appeal to its audience. In 2010, pretzel M&M’s were introduced which featured a salty, crunchy pretzel in the center. In 2013, an M&M’s chocolate bar was re-introduced and peanut butter M&Ms were released in a smaller size, and in 2015 crispy M&M’s were also reintroduced back to the United States. In 2017, caramel M&M’s were introduced as well. Beyond these candy bars and candy versions, the company released an M&M’s cookie in 2016, released a hazelnut spread flavor in 2019, and released an M&M’s fudge brownie in 2020.  

Roadblocks Along the Way

When you are in the business of selling food, you are subject to much criticism. Consumers have a lot of opinions on what they like and what they don’t like, and the sales will reflect that. With M&M’s, several versions were discontinued, and re-released, and discontinued again, based on sales and consumer interest. Besides this, just like with most companies, M&M’s has not been immune from receiving negative publicity. For example, in 1976 the company had to pivot and replace their red M&M’s with orange after its second and fourth dyes were believed to have carcinogenic properties and consumers did not want to eat red candy. In 1987, these were reintroduced after consumers wanted the red candy again. Just like with any roadblock though, M&M’s continued to move forward and to respond to the concerns and feedback of their consumers. 

The Meaning of M&M’s Logo and M&M’s Logo History

While the M&M’s logo may appear simple, the company sought out graphic designer, Nicole Garcia, to create it. The two “M’s” represent the two men behind the company, Forrest Mars Sr. and Bruce Murrie. The logo has not changed much throughout the years, always including a simple wordmark, but below we take a deeper dive into the different color and font versions throughout the years. 

Image source

1941-1954: The first version of the M&M’s logo

In 1941, the first logo version was created and remained the logo until 1954. This original logo featured solely lowercase letters written in a classic sans serif font in monochrome colors. There was some variation from the standard font with the lines being a little thinner and extended in height in certain places. In the wordmark, the “M’s” and the ampersand were written larger than the “S.”

Image source

1954–1971: The second version of the M&M’s logo

In 1954, the second version of the logo was released, and this version resembled a hand-drawn, uneven wordmark in yellow color, against a black background. To this day, this version was the most eye-catching iteration they released. 

Image source

1971-1988: The third version of the M&M’s logo

For this version, the color scheme was altered to be a brown wordmark written on a white background. This font conveyed more confidence and this version lasted as the logo for 17 years! 

Image source

1988-2001: The fourth version of the M&M’s logo

To match the darker brown that was M&M’s main color scheme, the M&M’s logo was altered again. This time, the wordmark was written with stronger and cleaner lines and featured a darker hue of brown. Like the logo before it, this one also lasted over ten years. 

Image source

The fifth version of the M&M’s logo

In 2001, the logo shifted away from the dark brown to a lighter shade while showcasing a brown and white outline. This addition added a sense of volume to the logo and made it stand out more.

Image source

2004-2018: The sixth version of the M&M’s logo

In 2004, the company played around with its shape and made the logo diagonal on a white background. The brown coloring was a gradient, and it was highlighted by a black shadow. This play on depth and shape added a modern feel to the traditional logo. 

2019-Present: The seventh version of the M&M’s logo

When the logo was updated in 2019, it was updated to be a flat, two-dimensional logo again. The dark brown was reintroduced as the main color and the diagonal placement was continued. The ampersand differs from the letters as it has a white outline and is placed above the letters. This seventh version is the current logo today. 

M&M’s logo font: 

Just like with the simple “M” featured on their candies, the logo for M&M’s is also a simple wordmark. Throughout the years, the logo has remained written in lowercase letters in a classic sans serif font, with some variations in the lines to make the font M&M’s own. 

M&M’s logo color: 

While the candy itself has been featured in a variety of colors throughout the years, the logo itself has not had as much variety. The original candies were distributed in red, yellow, green, brown, and violet. As the years progressed, violet was discarded for tan, red was discarded for orange after health concerns, red was reintroduced as a color, blue was introduced after a consumer vote, and purple was featured for a short time.

When it comes to the logo though, for the brand, the coloring has consistently been a version of brown, white, and black. There was a brief stint where the logo included yellow, but typically the logo is featured in these neutral colors to complement their marketing campaigns and other graphics. 

M&M’s Today

M&M’s are a staple in the candy market not only in the United States, but across the world (M&M’s are available in over 100 countries), and today are available in over 17 colors online. What has kept them so successful is that they offer different limited-edition versions, many varieties in colors, and countless fillings and sizes. For instance, there are holiday-specific candies (like Easter’s white cheesecake, Halloween’s white candy corn and pumpkin spice, and Valentine’s Day’s white strawberry shortcake), nut varietals (i.e., peanuts, peanut butter, almond, hazelnut, strawberry peanut butter, etc.), chocolate options (white chocolate dark chocolate, and milk chocolate), fruit flavors (like orange, raspberry, cherry, coconut, tropical, cherry cordial, and so many more), herb and spice flavors (i.e., cinnamon, mint chocolate, gingerbread, chili nut, coffee nut, etc.), and dessert offerings (like salted caramel, fudge brownie, pretzel, vanilla shake, red velvet, and so much more). Beyond the flavors, the company also plays around with the coloring for these special releases and flavors. For instance, holiday flavors are often released in their applicable holiday color. 

Currently, half of the production of M&M’s occurs in their manufacturing plant in Hackettstown, while the other half takes place in their Tennessee location. Most notably, M&M’s have become an item many buy in bulk for customized, personal occasions. These candies can be printed with a personalized expression on the side opposite the “M” for people to use as a wedding or party favor, holiday gift of good wishes, or for another occasion. 

Lessons Learned from M&M’s

Since the idea of M&M’s was first conceptualized, the candy has become a candy staple for families, and their place in pop culture hasn’t wavered. The candy has become a popular treat not only for a chocolate or candy fix, but for Halloween, holidays, or favors. As part of the Mars Company’s Wrigley Confectionery umbrella, M&M’s are the most recognizable product. And that is largely due to their logo. 

The candy itself is not groundbreaking, it is a simple chocolate filling in a chocolate shell. Yes, there are different versions of the candy that we’ve outlined in-depth, but their holistic brand is what keeps consumers returning. The M&M’s logo conveys a sense of nostalgia with their consumers, and it keeps consumers coming back. Children grow up knowing the M&M’s logo because their parents know the M&M’s logo. The logo is simple and easily recognizable and what we can learn from M&M’s is that a logo doesn’t have to be complicated or need drastic iterations year after year. If you have a logo that works, stick with it, and focus on building your brand’s following instead.

Popular articles

The Complete History Of The JCPenney Logo 
In the face of the rising popularity of e-commerce, the backlash of the 2008 recession, and, more recently, COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, traditional department stores have been on the decline for ...
The Key To Professional AI Logo Design
There are plenty of free logo generation tools available, so why do brands still seek out a professional to design their business logo? Professional logo design involves more than presenting ...
The State Of AI Custom Illustration 2023
Deep Dream Generator user-generated image from a public gallery You are likely already aware of how valuable custom illustrations can be for building your brand with personalized artwork for your ...



Let our community of talented logo designers create dozens of gorgeous, completely custom logo designs just for you.

All inclusive design packages start at just $89 for 30 original designs.