Home Opinion Modern feminism is a hard-shelled treat: the female M&M’s aren’t so sweet

Modern feminism is a hard-shelled treat: the female M&M’s aren’t so sweet

A cluster of Green and Brown M&M's on top of a white background.
Photography by Ruby Williamson, 42Fifty Editor.

Past, Present, and Payday:

Eddie Phelps – Podcast Editor

Marketing is a difficult concept and a treacherous profession. When your goal is to appeal to the largest number of people possible in a way that won’t cause any issues, you’re pursuing a high-risk, high-reward scenario.

The largest candy manufacturer in the world, Mars Wrigley, has taken part in a variety of marketing techniques. The M&M’s cast, one of America’s token mascots, served a prominent role in American culture.

The first M&Ms to be released as M&M’s “spokescandies” was Mr. Red and Mr. Yellow in 1960. The first female M&M, Ms. Green, made her broadcast debut in 1997.

The marketing reason behind making female M&M’s (or gendering the M&M’s at all) is an attempt to add humanity to their product. If people can relate to these anthropomorphic candies, they’re more likely to remember them and, therefore, buy the product.

This brings us to the newest M&M’s package, the all-female Flipped Pack, which contains green, brown, and a newly added purple M&M. For every package sold, the M&M’s company will donate $1 to “support the next generation of women flipping the script in creative industries.”

However, seeing as the newest M&M added to the cast, Ms. Purple, was added to represent “acceptance and inclusivity,” it makes me think that these ideas were only introduced to make money.

Product mascots were created to represent and sell items; they were not intended to be spokespersons for contemporary issues. Women’s daily struggles are far too complex for any kind of corporate “spokescandy” to fully and accurately represent. That role should be filled by a character who was created to be a symbol of women’s empowerment, or by a woman who can advocate for women’s rights without the added incentive of a few dollars.

The most recent update to the M&M controversy is Maya Rudolph’s inclusion as a spokesperson, putting “spokescandies” on an indefinite pause. While this is a step in the right direction, it still seems as if Mars Wrigley is using her as nothing more than a marketing tactic to draw in more money.

And yet we continue to purchase. We continue to support an uncaring business under the guise that they’re helping women and “flipping the status quo.” We continue to see little to no change in the aforementioned status quo, despite what we perceive to be our best efforts. The only thing that has changed, however, is the amount of money flooding into corporate schemes.

Similar packaging, unequal treatment:

Gianna King – Spanish & Art Editor

Let me just start by saying that I am a woman. As a woman, I like the female M&Ms to an extent—the extent being that they are… M&M’s. I find it strange that M&M’s need to be gendered in the first place, but if children find representation for themselves in M&M’s, so be it! The issue is that M&M’s are the change, not Mars fighting for real-world changes. 

The green M&M losing her heels was unnecessary and instead left the impression to me that Mars thinks women can’t embrace traditional ideas of femininity and be the very definition of “girlbosses”.

A better representation of what women need is someone authentic, unafraid, and capable of taking charge regardless of the shoe. Instead, all of us sighed as we knew what we were about to receive: fake activism hiding under a sweet candy coating.

Women want equal pay, they want to feel safe walking home when it gets dark, they want support through pregnancies, and they want to feel comfortable enough to discuss their periods. We want our products to cost the same as men’s and to be treated like anyone else, not have some candy “represent” our power. 

Does Mars care about the struggles of an oppressed group, or do they care about the money they can gain from faking sympathy? We’ve seen examples proving big companies don’t with rainbow capitalism and companies taking advantage of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

They don’t seem to care, and why should they when money drives the majority of their decisions? I’ve never wanted a “spokescandy”  (or the new spokeswoman, Maya Rudolph) to show me what I know; I want large corporations like Mars to stop giving me sympathy when I don’t want it.

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Hi, I'm Gianna! This is my first year on staff as a junior in high school, as well as the Art & Spanish editor! I'm part of the LASO and Horticulture club and am excited to write stories.

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