There’s been a lot of buzz about the sexiness — or rather, un-sexiness — of the M&M’s spokescandies lately, so much so that the brand is taking an “indefinite pause” from using the iconic candy characters.
On Monday, M&M’s, which is owned by Mars Wrigley, made the surprise announcement that it would halt the use of the “polarizing” characters.
“In the last year, we’ve made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren’t sure if anyone would even notice,” the brand wrote in a statement shared to social media.
The changes made came last year when M&M’s unveiled new designs for its anthropomorphized characters, which have been the face of the brand for decades. Among the most noticeable — and most polarizing — changes was the decision to swap footwear.
The green M&M, whose name is actually Ms. Green, ditched her former go-go boots for a pair of sensible flats. In reaction, a petition was started to “keep the green M&M sexy.” As of this writing, the petition has 21,000 signees.
The brown M&M, who wore a stilettoed heel, also changed her shoes to a blockier, kitten heel.
Cries of upset sounded in response, with Tucker Carlson of Fox News leading the charge. Carlson called the candies “woke M&M’s.”
“M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous,” Carlson said on his self-titled show. “Until the moment when you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won.”
Also last year, M&M’s launched a new female character, appropriately named Purple, as part of a limited-edition package of candy in honour of International Women’s Day. Ms. Green and Ms. Brown also appeared on the special-edition bag.
In response, Carlson again sounded the alarm bells on his show.
“The green M&M’s got her boots back but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe, and there is also a plus-sized, obese purple M&M’s,” he said. “So we’re going to cover that, of course. Because that’s what we do.”
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum also joined the criticism of Purple when she said on-air, “If this is what you need for validation, an M&M that is the colour that you think is associated with feminism, then I’m worried about you.”
MacCallum added that the attention on M&M’s characters will inspire China to “take over all of the mineral deposits in the entire world” while the U.S. is fixated on the candy characters.
In the statement from M&M’s, the brand referenced the complaints directly.
“Now we get it — even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing. Which is the last thing M&M’s wanted since we’re all about bringing people together,” the brand wrote.
M&M’s said ex-SNL comedian and actor Maya Rudolph would instead fill the spokescandies’ not-so-heeled shoes.
“We are confident Ms. Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong,” the M&M’s statement reads.
The brand added that the candy characters would “step away and embrace a new path to pursue other passions.”
Rudolph, 50, will appear in the M&M’s Super Bowl commercial, as per CNN.
On social media, some speculated that the move to change spokesperson was entirely to do with the Super Bowl campaign. Others expressed disdain that the brand was giving in to pressure from right-wing political figures upset over the alleged “wokeness.”