Thread: Remember when red M&M's were banned?

  • avatar
    • 10 years 9 months ago
    • Posts: 4632
    Yes they were and I never knew why till they were brought back.

    Red M&M's were discontinued for 9 years from 1976 to 1985 after the FDA banned Red Dye No. 2, even though M&M's did not contain this dye. They had always used Red #'s 3 and 40.
    In the 1970s, Soviet scientists claimed a link between the dye used in everything from sausage casings and ice cream to makeup to causing cancer, and U.S. tests proved some correlation as well. Though it was never linked to any deaths or illnesses, the substance was banned from U.S. shelves in 1976 (same year as the first Swine Flu scare).

    Many consumers protested, and a student at the University of Tennessee (Paul Hethmon, the photo editor on the student newspaper, the Daily Beacon) started a society for the Restoration and Preservation of Red M&M's. Eventually the company relented and began producing it again. This was around the time the red dye scare was ending. Focus groups were held to decide the correct proportions for the gradual reintroduction of the banned variety during the Christmas season of 1985.

    The new proportions were 30% brown, 20% red, 20% yellow and 10% each of orange, green and tan for plain M&M's.

    Sources:foodreference.com and Time Magazine
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 89
    WOW! i never noticed that, so they were basically green and yellow right?
  • avatar
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 4632
    Quote by JackBurton

    WOW! i never noticed that, so they were basically green and yellow right?

    Just like they are today, but no red ones. I don't remember if blue was around then.
  • avatar
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 484
    I can't believe it was THAT long ago!

    I could swear it was a lot more recent than that, because I can actually remember when the red M&M's were banned. Man, it was a long time ago. That was almost way before my time.

    Basically, a lot of plain earth-tone colors back then!
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  • avatar
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 2028
    Quote by bassman21
    ...This was around the time the red dye scare was ending.


    Huh. I wonder if this was (or is) connected to the whole 'eat the red ones last' saying.
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    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 5946
    werent red m&ms like lou diamond philip's favorite m&m color?
  • avatar
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 492
    Quote by RetroxBunny
    Quote by bassman21
    ...This was around the time the red dye scare was ending.


    Huh. I wonder if this was (or is) connected to the whole 'eat the red ones last' saying.


    That was smarties.

    But they started using that slogan in the late 70s so maybe it was connected.
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  • avatar
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 119
    I thought Blue came out in the late 90s?

    I know they got rid of Light Brown M&M's.
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  • avatar
    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 10350
    So was orange around that time or was it new in the 90's?
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    • 10 years 8 months ago
    • Posts: 4
    When I was kid, before the ban, M&Ms came in dark brown, light brown, yellow, orange, green and red. Blue came later, after red had gone.

    Interesting pop-culture tie in to this. During the Rocky-Horror Audience Participation (have not been to rocky horror picutre show in 20 years, so not sure if they still even do it) it was common to ehar this line:

    Frankenfurter singing: Whatever happened to...(pause)

    Audience: RED M&Ms!

    First time I heard it I busted up, and I would shout it every time after that.
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