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The M&Ms are different now

Nobody asked for candy with anxiety. And why can’t the green M&M be sexy?

Bags of M&Ms on a store display.
Mars has announced their M&M characters will have more “nuanced personalities.”
Jeff Greenberg/Universal Images/Getty Images
Melinda Fakuade is an associate editor for Vox, working mainly with The Goods and the Culture team. She is from New York and her writing has focused on culture, entertainment, and consumerism.

So far, 2022 has not been very different from recent years, in that every day America seems to wake to what I can only call immensely bad news. Omicron cases are sweeping the nation, and there doesn’t seem to be a decent plan for that. Britney Spears, the sweet but often suffering patron saint of 2000s pop, is finally free, but now embroiled in a very public feud with her sister. And oh yeah, did you hear, they’re getting rid of the go-go boots on the goddamn green M&M?

Outrage feels woven into the daily cloth of our country now. That’s just the way it is — we are perpetually angry, if not mildly irritated, almost all of the time. There are a number of reasons for that: political tensions, social media and its underpinnings of constantly being surveilled, the general feeling that things used to be better. In the midst of all this, there is something psychically bothersome about a new announcement from the Mars candy company, in which they say that going forward, their iconic M&M characters will have more “nuanced personalities.”

Except that we do not want more nuance. Nuance is what begets discourse, and discourse will always beget general unpleasantness.

The changes to the M&M characters are mainly as follows, according to CBS: The red M&M, who is generally known for being a pain, will be nicer. The orange one “will embrace his true self, worries and all,” whatever that means, and is being angled toward Gen Z. (You know, because he’s anxious.) The brown M&M will have shorter heels, and the green M&M will be reduced to a pair of sneakers (still unclear if they are actually dating or not). Yellow and blue appear to be coming out of this move relatively unscathed, although it’s unclear what makes them so much better than the rest of the gang.

According to Mars, which has faced accusations of human rights violations, these changes are meant to reflect a “more dynamic, progressive world.” It might seem that they have failed to see the progressiveness of their green M&M, their crown jewel, who for as long as the public can remember has been unafraid of her own sexuality. However, it is obvious, and maddening for reasons I can barely articulate, that Mars knows the extent of her power and yet chose to downgrade her just the same.

Everything is political and everything feels personal now. Chocolate candy, tied to some of the happiest and simplest memories Americans have, is no different. Publicity stunts are not new, but years ago, no one would be expected to go along with the idea that the green M&M loves being “a hypewoman for her friends,” especially since, IMO, she has the qualities of a very glamorous hater who tolerates the other M&Ms because she loves attention. Marketing executives seemingly love nothing more than to watch us shriek into our screens about their silly little decisions, and we fall for it every time. It is almost embarrassing how easily consumers can be manipulated, and also a little frightening how badly I now want to eat M&Ms.