(WWTI) – This candy has military significance as when the United States entered WW II these candies were exclusively sold to the military, to be included in American soldiers’ rations, today is National M&M Day.
M&Ms are made by the Mars company — named after Forrest Mars Sr.—Mars was inspired to make this candy after he saw British volunteers during the Spanish Civil War – in 1932 — eating small chocolate beads encased in a hard sugar shell, which prevented melting. Mars later approached Bruce Murrie — the son of Hershey executive William Murrie – to make the new candy with the name M&M deriving from both of their last names ‘Mars’ and ‘Murrie.’
Although M&M production started in 1941 the signature “M” was missing until 1950. The “M” was printed in black — changing to white in 1954 and customers were encouraged to “Look for the M on every piece” to ensure its authenticity.
M&Ms removed red from the lineup from 1976 to 1987 to avoid customer confusion. You see there was a study that linked a popular red food dye with cancer and although M&Ms didn’t use that dye the color was banned to prevent any misunderstanding. In 1987 though, the ban was lifted as not only did the public demand it but the red food dye was found to be innocent of all cancer causing charges.
M&Ms qualities that make them durable wartime treats made them the go to candy for astronauts. In 1981, at the request of the crew, M&Ms boarded on to NASA’s Columbia space shuttle, being the first candy to enter outer space.
- 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour — spooned and leveled
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted & cooled — for just 5 minutes
- 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/4 cups mini or regular-size M&Ms
- 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Adjust oven rack to the center rack position. Line the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch metal or glass baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan. Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix with a large spoon or rubber spatula. The dough will be very soft, slick, and thick. Fold in the M&Ms and chocolate chips. The M&Ms and chips may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter but do your best to combine them.
- Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan and press/smooth into an even layer. Bake for 26–30 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides and top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist (not wet) crumbs. Do not over-bake. If you notice the bars browning too much before 25 minutes, tent the pan with foil. Bars puff up in the oven but settle as they cool.
- Allow the bars to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for at least an hour. While they’re still warm, I like to press a few more M&Ms and chocolate chips into the tops, just for looks (optional!). Once relatively cool, lift the bars out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into squares.
- Cover leftover bars and store at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Happy National M&M Day!