M&Ms caught in culture war


“When you’re totally turned off we’ve achieved equity” Tucker Carlson, host of FOX News Channel’s Tucker Show Tonight, says mocking Mars Wrigley’s rebranding of female M&M characters. 

Carlson’s comments followed after Mars’ “de-sexification” of the green and brown M&M characters. While before the green M&M sported “sexy boots”, the candy brand recently opted for sensible sneakers as well as changed the high stilettos worn by the brown M&M to lower block heels.

“M&M’s will not be satisfied until every cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous… until you don’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal,” Carlson continued on his show the evening of January 25.

Carlson was just the catalyst for the conservative backlash on the candy’s rebranding. 

“I mean what kind of message does it send to children when you devour these little non-binary bonbons,” says FOX News host Greg Gutfeld in another FOX News’ coverage on the rebranding.

Conservative Internet personality, Ben Shapiro, pulled other nonsensical cultural issues into M&M’s rebranding.

Shapiro, host of The Daily Wire, mocks Mars’ plan to sell all female M&M packages in both the classic milk chocolate and peanut flavor, saying “I was getting afraid there, I’m glad that some of these female M&M’s will have nuts to represent the transgender community,” to his podcast’s audience. 

While all of these coverages of the rebranding greatly entertained me, the conversation being had between liberals and conservatives regarding M&M’s is ridiculous in my opinion. 

Outside of the misogynistic, transphobic, and overall creepy comments made by the right, the whole premise of the discussion is illogical. 

I understand Mars wanting to rebrand their characters, and even respect their admission that their female M&M characters are overly sexualized in their design; however, changing the footwear of female characters and creating all female M&M candy packages is by no means a nod to women and women’s struggles.

Their comment that powerful women wear sensible shoes and thus should be represented in the green and brown M&M’s footwear is honestly worse to me than just leaving them in their high heels. The idea that “powerful” women have to be more modest or androgynous is innately misogynistic. I would hope that in 2023 most people could agree that powerful women aren’t defined by what they look like or wear. 

Secondly, women aren’t fighting for representation in candy. As a woman and a feminist, we’re too busy fighting for equal pay, bodily autonomy, and overall equity in society. Eating candy that is branded as androgynous, or sensible isn’t going to change systematic gender issues, and neither is selling all female M&M packages. Outside of the character on the package, it’s just chocolate. I have never heard a single woman complain about candy characters, so why would Mars Wrigley put so much PR effort into addressing this “issue”?

I personally believe that, like most major corporations, Mars is using social issues to simply make more money. We’ve seen this exact practice in conglomerates like Coca Cola since social issues became prominent in the media. At the end of the day, they don’t care about representing people or not, they just want to turn a larger profit. 

Thus my greater point about how ridiculous this discourse has become. Why are grown men getting so worked up about something as minuscule as candy marketing? Why does candy have to be sexually appealing? Why is M&M’s fighting so hard for something that has no impact?

 I think the M&M rebranding and controversy is just a small piece of a much larger, more complex puzzle: the cultural war. I think Mars Wrigley is just digging themselves into a larger hole by feeding into the senseless discourse. If Mars is truly passionate about representing women and standing alongside liberal social issues they would make their presence known legislatively like Meta, Google, and Amazon have. 

I may not agree with these companies’ agendas; however, there’s something to be said about the game they’re playing. In comparison to Mars’ and other “progressive” companies’ representation campaigns and marketing, these companies are actually making a difference, and changing the political sphere to look the way they want it to.