Explaining Away the Green M&M

By Linsey Knerl on 9 February 2008 (Updated 13 February 2008) 23 comments
Photo: Lin Pernille

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the company behind M&M’s has decided to let the urban legend run wild. No longer will the impotent and uninspired have to dig through their candy bags to get to the good ones. Here’s the dirt on the green ones, and how we got here, anyway.

“The green ones will make you horny.” I was only a 3rd grader when I first heard the legend of the green M&M. Unaware of what that fully entailed, I continued to dig around in the bag for something that wasn’t red. Everyone knew that the red ones gave you cancer.

Later on in life, I came to the startling conclusion that boys didn’t need M&M’s to become “inspired.” Reports of rock stars ordering large bowls of the green ones for their dressing rooms filled the media. Shortly after, ecstasy became the new way to “feel the lovin’.” (Or so I heard….)

As an adult in my late twenties, the topic hadn’t come up in my household until the recent barrage of green M&M commercials making their way across television sets just in time for the holiday of lovers. My toddler wonders why the green one talks, my daughter asks why green means love and not red, and my husband questions why all the commercials during the 5 o’clock news are for E.D. prescriptions and M&M’s. I pull my hair out trying to answer these questions.

Yes, M&M Mars has embraced the childish stories of my childhood with their new campaign to sell bags of all-green M&M’s. While no mention of the words “horny,” “randy,” or the like appear on their website, we all know what they are talking about. According to the website, green is the “new color of love.” Yikes. I don’t believe “love” was what we used to talk about on the playground, as I nervously ate the green M&M and wondered if I would get sick or possibly die.

Here’s a clue from a confused consumer. I see the fun in the product, really I do. Would I spend money on an all-green bag of M&M’s? Probably not. (Unless they went on sale as part of the after-holiday clearance AND I had a coupon.) I would much rather my husband show me the “true” color of love – something with gold in it.

For those who choose to feed the “green” machine this holiday, let me know how it goes. Some have said that they taste different, but what I’m really curious about are the undocumented “side effects.” Happy Valentines Day!

 

(UPDATE:  I am happy to report (I think) that there was a surprise in my early Valentine's gift basket from hubby today.  You guessed, it... it was full of those little green candies.  Delicious, but I'm not sure  yet if they are magical...) 

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Guest's picture
Guest

When I first saw the commercial for the "new color of love" being green, I was a little confused because isn't green the color of both jealousy and envy? I think this marketing strategy is going to be a big flop - sorry M&M!

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

wow I never heard of the green ones make you horny thing.  I guess I grew up in Hawai'i and we were more innocent.

Guest's picture
Scott

Green is the color of the heart chakra or energy center. It has always been associated with compassion and unconditional love for many years and by many different cultures. When the energy center is imbalanced, jealousy and envy occur and so they are also 'green' (though those who can see auroas say it is a dirty green, different than the vibrant green of a healthy balanced chakra).

Funny, in that red is the color of our root chakra, and so our culture and traditions of red meaning love, has a much lower vibration to it, purely physical love rather than the more inspiring unconditional love.

Guest's picture

I had forgotten all about the green ones making you horny. Too funny!

Linsey Knerl's picture

I had heard about the historical meaning of green in European cultures, but never from that point of view.  Maybe there is more to their campaign than I thought... but then again, probably not  :)

 

Guest's picture
Minimum Wage

I am an equal opportunity consumer of Ms. (Take a look, do they say M&M?) I like the blue ones more than the others, but they all have the same effect when consumed.

Guest's picture
Jeremy

Hah, this is hilarious! I have heard that the green ones had special powers, but what is more interesting is that just today my wife filled up our candy jar with a bag of peanut M&Ms. When I saw the bowl, I noticed they were all green, and I was a bit confused. I asked her if she bought a special kind or something, and she said "no, these were in the valentine candy section, but maybe I bought St. Patrick's ones instead, but that is in March."

Now that I know the reason behind it, I'm sure she will get a good laugh when I tell her.

Guest's picture
Zannie

I'd rather just have the love, myself. I don't need the gold.

Guest's picture

They make you horny and rot your teeth - what a fun mix!

Guest's picture
Darrell D. Rhodes Sr.

Come on, we know its the CHOCK-a-let and not the green coating!

Myscha Theriault's picture

This gave me such a chuckle to read over coffee this morning. Thanks.

 

 

Linsey Knerl's picture

You're right, of course.... I just like to drop a few subtle hints from time to time.  :)

Guest's picture
Brett

Yes, there's the green is the horny color thing, but there's something simpler to this than that. Look at the Valentine's day candy in the grocery store. It's all red / pink. The green packaging makes the green M&Ms immediately stand out and get attention - they're the sore thumb. The opposite. And of course, being noticed on the store shelf usually means being bought. It's the exact marketing process that laundry detergent has been going through. 10 years ago, detergents were all packaged in white bottles. Tide released their product in a bright orange bottle. Tide became #1. Now, all detergents are packaged in bright color bottles and the white ones are getting noticed instead. Detergent is detergent. Chocolate is chocolate. The real key to selling the same thing as everyone else is to get it noticed and marketed in the right ways. M&M made a very smart move here.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I did give this point a thought.  The trouble with solely banking on the fact that they stand out is that most stores have the placement all wrong.  Stick the bag of M&M's on a shelf with all red and pink, you may have a winner; put them on an end cap next to the checkout line (where I've been seeing most of them) and people think, "Why the heck are they advertising for St. Patty's already?"  It's an annoyance rather than serving it's original purpose.

Maybe M&M needs to communicate to their retailers and merchandising staff better on this one.

Thanks for the comment!

Guest's picture
voodoo

Since probably around the late 1950s, almost all major advertising is 100% based on emotional connections or "perceived" value.

Advertising has nothing to do with logic. All of our purchases are pretty much based on several emotional, non-logical, connections with the message being sold to us. Not the product, the MESSAGE.

When was the last time you saw a commercial for Starbucks on TV? You don't have to, they're selling an "experience" not coffee, and there is a good chance there is one or two within a mile of where you are sitting right now.

Women: Tide, Bounce, Snuggle, and all other detergents are not selling you soap for your laundry....they sell you "empowering" ideas like - you are a good mom/housewife because you care enough about your family to make sure their whites are white.

And, perhaps you buy Jiff peanut butter. Not because you think it tastes the best, but because, if you are a good mom, and of course you are, you will be like all the other "choosy moms" that choose Jiff.

Coca-Cola really never needs to spend another dime on advertising, yet, we continue to see super-produced ads with cute polar bears or animated carbonated bubbles dancing with hip kids on the street. All in an attempt to maintain that warm and fuzzy feeling about Coke.

Speaking of beverages.....what do you think the top selling bottled waters are in the world? Evian? Perrier? Fuji? no, no and no.

#1 - Aquafina = filtered tap water from Pepsi Co.
#2 - Desani = filtered tap water from Coca-Cola Co.

Consumers could just buy a water filter, put it on their own faucet, and get EXACTLY the same thing. So why do folks continue to buy so much bottled water (creating a huge increase in plastic bottle waste).....because we've been sold on the emotional ideas that 1. we will die a horrible death by drinking our own tap water. 2. we will die a horrible death because we are all on the verge of dehydration.

Advertising = 100% emotional 0% logical

Guest's picture
Amberlynn

There was always a smirk, smile, or giggle on the adults faces when they found a green M&M... and I knew it had something to do with love. As I grew older, I was let in on the secret of the green M&M in our house. "Throw them out into the yard" my mom said. "It keeps the kids busy for hours..."

Yes, parents do need some alone time, don't they. ;)

Guest's picture
troy

You story about the M&M's is absolutely fantastic. First time I have smiled all day.

Guest's picture
Guest

Maybe they should change the color of Viagra to green.

Guest's picture
Sean

I always attributed the sexiness of the green m & m's to a line in a commercial when I was in Jr. High. A boy was talking about his m & m's and baseball. He ended with the line, "and the green ones make me hit home runs." I never heard about their horniness factor before that commercial, and I always assumed it was that one.

Linsey Knerl's picture

I don't know how old you are, but I vaguely remember that commercial.  I think I was in elementary.  Cool.

Guest's picture
Tammy

This was so funny to read...I bought a bag of the green ones out of curiosity--they were in a white bag and I wasn't sure if they were all green or maybe a different green, the "new color of love" :) After opening it and seeing that yes the whole bag was green I decided to buy more and save them for St. Patrick's Day! I never did figure out why they were green--thanks for enlightening me!

Linsey Knerl's picture

I was treated to the yummy green ones today.  I'm sure they were on sale...

Guest's picture
Alicea

My mom had alway told me to stay clear of the green m&ms and i never understood why untill i read this. All i have to say is who ever came up with the whole "green ones make you horney" thing should be ashamed of themselves. i mean i have my little brother who keeps asking me what green M&ms mean and i always tell him green means christmas and it seems to work up untill he discovered the internet could tell you information. grow up people there is no such thing as a color making you horny.