When Steve (Matthew McConaughey) informs Mary (Jennifer Lopez) that he only eats the brown M&M’s because they “have less artificial coloring because chocolate’s already brown,” this exchange is one of the most remembered moments of the classic romantic comedy The Wedding Planner.
Considering that the candy’s outer shell is colored with food coloring, Steve, who is meant to be a doctor, is clearly mistaken. It’s a cute scenario, though, since it illustrates how everyone has a favorite color of M&M’s. If you find someone with the same taste, you’ve found your perfect match.
Opening an M&M bag, pouring the candies onto a table, and looking at it closely reveals that some colors are preferred over others.
If Steve just consumes the brown M&Ms, how many total M&Ms does that bring to the table?
These button-shaped chocolate snacks have undergone several redesigns since their appearance in 1941; therefore, the answer is dependent on historical context. For safety reasons, in 1976, Mars changed the red dye to orange because of worries that it contained carcinogens (although it didn’t).
One college student’s effort to resurrect Red M&M’s ten years later resulted in the “Society for the Restoration and Preservation of Red M&M’s,” which became an internet sensation and helped bring them back. M&M’s have been available in six colors since 1995 (orange, brown, green, yellow, red, and blue) when Mars selected the color blue to replace the formerly popular tan color.
Mars’ website identified the color distribution as 30% brown, 20% yellow, 20% red, 10% orange, 10% green, and 10% blue in 1997. After that, in 2008, they switched to having 24% blue, 20% orange, 16% green, 14% yellow, 13% brown, and 13% red as their color distribution. But suddenly, all the color breakdowns disappeared from the website, and everything turned into a mystery.
That is, until early in 2017, when SAS statistician Rick Wicklin set out to figure out the distribution on his own. It took him weeks to finish counting the M&M’s in the break room’s big candy container. Based on 712 M&M’s, he determined that the color split was now 19.5% green, 18.7% blue, 18.7% orange, 15.1% red, 14.5% yellow, and 13.5% brown.
However, there is an unexpected turn in the story. A phone call from Wicklin to Mars revealed the existence of two different M&M factories, one in New Jersey and the other in Tennessee, where plain M&M’s are produced, with slightly varied color distributions.
This manufacturer in Tennessee gave their data to him, and he discovered his sample was quite close to theirs in terms of composition and compositional characteristics. This factory in New Jersey had a color split of 25 % blue and 25 % orange, with the remaining four hues accounting for 12.5 % of the color mix. Whatever the reason, brown has fallen out of favor, and Mars has yet to explain why it has been demoted.
It’s possible that Steve was correct all along and that eating only the brown ones is better for you, if only due to their scarcity.
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