If there's a candy company that many on the right love to hate, it's M&M's. Currently under the fourth-largest privately-held company in the U.S., the Mars brand has been a part of American food culture for more than 70 years. Consumers don't just love the small candy-coated chocolates themselves, many also know and love the iconic characters assigned to each color: thoughtful Blue, neurotic Orange and sassy Green.
A year ago, M&M's listened to long-standing criticism about how the two female characters were obviously sexualized -- in older advertisements, Green and Brown were sometimes presented as "competing" for the male M&M's while Green would strike "sexy" poses.
In January 2022, M&M's announced that it was giving the M&Ms characters a new "look, personalities and backstories" to be more in line with and "representative of today's society."
Some New All-Female M&M Candy Packs
While the changes were as minor as giving Green sneakers instead of high-heeled boots (Brown still wears heels but they are now less dramatic) and reworking some of the poses they strike in advertising campaigns, the outrage came fast.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that M&M would not stop until every character was "deeply unappealing and totally androgynous" and that equity would only be achieved when "you are totally turned off."
Carlson's responses were widely mocked but also caused a flurry of media coverage for Mars and M&M's. Then in September, the company announced that it was adding another color to the its six-candy lineup. A peanut M&M wearing combat boots and believing in "acceptance and inclusivity," Purple was initially only part of ads and online campaigns.
This week, M&M's once again rattled conservative sensibilities by announcing the launch of a limited edition candy package featuring Green, Brown and Purple in an "all-female" lineup.
The packs will be available in milk chocolate, peanut butter and peanut varieties and are the first time Purple can be bought as an actual candy. The packages are a limited-edition product that will not be available once supplies run out.
The M&M's Spokescandies Are Riling Up Fox News
"Women all over the world are flipping how they define success and happiness while challenging the status quo, so we're thrilled to be able to recognize and celebrate them -- and who better to help us on that mission than our own powerhouse spokescandies Green, Brown and Purple?" Gabrielle Wesley, chief marketing officer for Mars Wrigley North America, said in a statement.
The outrage was just as swift and predictable as it was last year. Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum spent a part of Monday's newscast to make extremely dramatic statements about how this kind of package "weakens" the U.S. on the global stage.
"If this is what you need for validation, an M&M that is the color that you think is associated with feminism, then I’m worried about you," said MacCallum. "I think that makes China say, 'Oh, good, keep focusing on that.'"
But given the wave of mockery and news coverage that takes place whenever a Fox anchor decides to go to battle against a candy, the pundits have largely achieved the opposite effect and helped revitalize a sweet that many have not eaten in years back into national discussion again.
"M&M company just trolling Fox News at this point," Twitter user Brad Grenz wrote of the new packages.