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Countless teenagers around the world firmly believe that green M&Ms contain a mysterious substance that promotes young love. It's an enduring myth, which has boosted sales of the sugar-coated chocolate candy for 20 years.

Back in 1984, East Texas State University anthropology student Denise Boesewetter asked people to name what they thought to be aphrodisiacs. Of 46 respondents, nearly half suggested green M&Ms as a powerful inducer of sexual desire. And in 2002, on the Internet, Teen Love Hint No. 57 is "Give him a handful of green M&Ms."

The rumor took hold in the 1970s, and has snowballed ever since. It all began when an American,  Forrest Mars Sr., visited Spain at the time of that country's Civil War. He noticed soldiers eating pellets of chocolate encased in a hard sugary coating to prevent it from melting. Returning home, he invented the recipe for "M&M's" Plain Chocolate Candies. The Mars Company of Hackettstown, New Jersey (now M&M/MARS), began producing M&M Chocolate Candies in 1941. Today, zillions are enjoyed worldwide.

In 1992, Wendy Jaffe,  a California lawyer set up a company named Cool Chocolates Inc. to make a green M&M-like candy sold under the name "The Green Ones." M&M/MARS claimed trademark infringement. Ms. Jaffe agreed to change the name and packaging of her product, which was subsequently sold as "Greenies."

The candymakers say they can't explain any extraordinary powers attributed to green M&Ms, either scientifically or medically. But there's no doubt the rumor gave their sales figures a massive boost. In 1996, M&M/MARS promoted an  advertising campaign asking "Is it true what they say about green ones?"

They went a step further the following year. "The historical moment in 1997 was the debut of Green, the first female M&M's Character,". says the official company history page. "This multifaceted '90's woman and author starred in a number of popular commercials. Green toured the U.S. promoting her autobiography, 'I Melt For No One,' and she quickly achieved the celebrity status of her male colleagues - the Red, Yellow and Blue M&M's Characters."

In a rather randy Valentine's Day article in Philly burbs Bob Bankard writes "Ah, but there is some satisfaction for Wendy [Jaffe] in the end - the magical prowess of Green M&Ms has lately rubbed off to both Green Jelly Beans and Green Gummy Bears. No longer is Mars the sole controller of the mystical non-existent power of confectionery aphrodisiac."


Here's an interesting recipe from M&M's website,  which has a picture showing several green M&Ms in the nest:


  • 1-1/3 cups (3 1/2 ounces or 100g) flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 240mL) butter
  • 1/2 cup (120mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (480mL) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12 ounce package (1-3/4 cups or 340g) "M&M's" Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Bits, divided


Preheat oven to 300F (150C).
Spread coconut on ungreased cookie sheet. Toast in oven, stirring occasionally until coconut just begins to turn a light golden color, about 25 minutes. Remove toasted coconut from cookie sheet; set aside. Increase oven temperature to 350F (180C). In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; add to creamed mixture, only until combined. Stir in 1 cup (240mL)"M&M's" Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Baking Bits. Form dough into 1-1/4-inch (32mm) balls. Roll heavily in toasted coconut. Place 2-inches (50mm) apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. With thumb, press indentation in center of each cookie. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until coconut is golden brown. Remove cookies to wire rack; immediately fill indentations with reserved candies, using a scant teaspoonful in each. Cool completely.

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Copyright 2002

  Eric Shackle   

Story first posted June 2002

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