The Candy Wars

My priorities are all messed up. Until a few days ago I hadn’t realized that for an entire year my beloved M&M’s candies were undermining the social order.

For the past year I’ve been obsessing over trivia: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation and the concern about recession, crime, the Madison schools and junk like that. Turns out it’s really about what’s happening to delicious chocolate wrapped in a tasty and colorful hard shell.

A year ago Mars/Wrigley, which owns M&M’s, updated its spokescandy costumes. Specifically, they switched out some of their footwear, moving the apparently female M&M’s out of high heels and into practical flats and sneakers. This set off Tucker Carlson who, 1) noticed and, 2) found those animated candies no longer sexy, leading a person to wonder why Carlson found them sexy in the first place.

Then, more recently, M&M’s introduced a new purple M&M that apparently was intended as a nod to positive body image, being somewhat rotund. I also didn’t notice that, but now that I think about it, it makes sense. If you eat a lot of M&M’s you probably would like a little positive reenforcement about body image. Anyway, that set Carlson off again.

Finally, a week or two ago Mars/Wrigley threw up it’s hands, laid off its spokescandies altogether and hired Maya Rudolph to replace them. Cynical people (and are there any cynical people around advertising?) are suggesting that they’re not just overreacting, but playing to the controversy on the theory that the only really bad press is on the obituary page. Rudolph will make her debut in a Super Bowl commercial.

At this point you just have to know, don’t you? Where does YSDA come down on all of this? We think it’s stupid.

Mars/Wrigley is in the business of selling junk food. Young consumers have always been prized by every company that doesn’t make hemorrhoid treatments because the idea is to get them hooked early. Young people are, as a rule, more sensitive to all those issues of inclusion. And just like that you get new, apparently less sexy, footwear on animated talking M&M’s.

This, my friends, is just the free market at work, something that Fox News and Tucker Carlson used to be all about until they discovered that hyped-up culture wars skirmishes were good for their own marketing to angry, old white guys.

We are quick in these parts to go after what we see as the hyper-sensitive idiocy on the left — we’ve written more than once about the lunacy of expelling the Chamberlin Rock from the UW campus because it was referred to a by a bad name, once, a century ago. We’ve written about the injustice of stripping Frederic March’s name from a UW theatre because he once belonged to a student group with another bad name. There’s a lot of that kind of thing over on the over-sensitive left.

But the answer isn’t the same kind of silly nitpicking on the right. Is whining about candy footwear any less goofy than taking offense at a rock? A pox on both their houses. I will be careful to eat just as many M&M’s this year as I ate last year (of course I count each one!) so as not to encourage either side.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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