Origins: The Mars Company of Hackettstown, New Jersey (now M&M/MARS), has been producing M&M Chocolate Candies since 1941. (The peanut variety was introduced in 1954.) Various rumors have since been attached to different colors of the candy: the green ones are an aphrodisiac; if the last candy out of a bag is red, make a wish and it will come true; if the last candy out of a bag is yellow, you should call in sick and stay home; orange M&Ms are good luck, but brown ones are bad luck. M&M/MARS notes that all these rumors were developed by consumers, not the company.
The rumor that these green candies are an aphrodisiac apparently started or first gained prominence in the 1970s, when students reportedly picked the green ones out of packages to feed to the objects of their desires. (At that time, an average of 10% of plain M&Ms and 20% of peanut M&Ms were green.) Why the green M&Ms were attributed with this power is unknown: perhaps it was because the color green has always been associated with healing and fertility. (The company itself routinely states it "cannot explain any extraordinary 'powers' attributed to [green M&Ms], either scientifically or medically.") The same "powers" have also been claimed of other candies, such as green jelly beans and gummi bears.
When red M&Ms were temporarily taken off the market after the FDA banned the use of red
In 1992, a California lawyer named Wendy Jaffe cashed in on the legend and started a company named Cool Chocolates Inc. Her company's sole product was a green
M&M/MARS finally started using the mythical image associated with green M&Ms to its advantage by running an "Is it true what they say about green ones?" advertising campaign and introducing the vampy "Green" M&M character:
Last updated: 4 March 2014
Baker, Olivia. "M&M Embraces Rumors About Those Green Ones." USA Today. 14 September 2001 (p. D1). Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Mexican Pet. New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30542-2 (pp. 111-113). Hall, Trish. "The Quest for Colors That Make Lips Smack." The New York Times. 4 November 1992 (p. C1). Morgan, Hal and Kerry Tucker. Rumor! New York: Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0-14-007036-2 (pp. 61-62). Williams, Lena. "Can a Green Candy Make Love Sweeter?" The New York Times. 17 March 1993 (p. C8). The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 173).