In case you hadn't already noticed a trend, or if you're new to World War Wednesdays and don't know that we've been going strong for almost two and a half years, the World Wars have everything to do with, well... pretty much everything. We've delved into some delectable topics a few times in recent memory (I know I doughnut have to remind you about the WWI Salvation Army doughnut girls post), but I thought it would be interesting to look into the Second World War's connections to some of the commercial candy brands we all know and love.
The story goes that Forrest E. Mars, Sr. (son of Frank Mars, who founded the iconic candy company Mars, Inc.) invented this classic treat in 1941, after having seen soldiers during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s eating chocolate pellets coated in tempered chocolate. He secured a patent for the product that same year, dubbing it "M&M'S," and set up shop with M&Ms Ltd. headquartered in Newark, NJ. Advertised as M&M'S Plain Chocolate Candies, the tubes of candy also hit the market in 1941, and came in brown, red, green, blue, orange, yellow, and violet. Within months, however, the US entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December, and M&M'S became reserved for exclusive military use. Since their trademark candy coating prevented them from melting in warm climates such as the Pacific, M&M's were included as part of soldiers' C-Rations. Tubes were also sold in post exchanges and ship's service ports. When the war ended in 1945, they were once again available for purchase by the general public, and the original tube packaging was replaced with the familiar bag in 1948.
2. Hershey Bars
|Ration D bar and Tropical Chocolate bar, ca.1942-1944, Hershey Community Archives|
3. Whitman's Chocolates
4. Tootsie Rolls
|LIFE Magazine, 26 Oct 1942|
I hope you enjoyed this little foray into the sweeter side of wartime history. Many thanks to Candy Professor, The Huffington Post, Carrie Ledgerwood's History of Candy blog, and Tootsie's interactive timeline for information and images.
Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)