M&M’s ‘spokescandies’ controversy, explained – Polygon

Say goodbye to both the sexy green M&M and also her feminist, sneaker-wearing counterpart. Mars Wrigley, the maker of the colorful chocolate candies, has pulled its M&M’s ‘spokescandies’ mascots “indefinitely” from its marketing and branding. Instead, M&M’s will be represented by the real-life comedian and actress Maya Rudolph.

The news comes after a rebranding to make the characters more inclusive, and the subsequent fallout after far right conservative pundits like Fox News host Tucker Carlson condemned the change. The statement, tweeted from M&M’s official account, reads:

In the last year, we’ve made some changes to our beloved spokescandies. We weren’t sure if anyone would even notice. And we definitely didn’t think it would break the interent. But now we get it — even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing.

The befuddling chain of events has inspired an endless slew of internet commentary. At time of publication the tweet announcing the change has been quote tweeted over 14k times. The responses have ranged from plenty of anger to funny jokes. Here’s how we got to this point.

Why are the M&M’S ‘spokescandies’ leaving?

Roughly a year ago, Mars Wrigley updated the look of its M&M’s characters, when the company announced an initiative to make the mascots fit a “more dynamic, progressive world.” As part of these changes, the company introduced new designs of some of M&M’s characters and wrote weirdly elaborate backstories for others. Most notably, the company made green M&M less “sexy” by shortening her legs and replacing her high-heeled boots with sneakers.

At the time, the change prompted both criticism from feminist activists (being hot isn’t a problem unto itself) and far right conservatives who cast it as another battle in the culture wars. In Jan. 2022, Tucker Carlson criticized the rebrand during a show segment.

Carlson revisited the topic as an issue on his show more recently, and ended up reigniting the conversation around it. On the episode he said, “Woke M&M’s have returned. The green M&M got her boots back, but apparently is now a lesbian maybe? And there is also a plus-sized, obese, purple M&M.”

We don’t know why Carlson decided to talk about M&M’s again. Mars Wrigley has not made any recent changes to the M&M characters. In the show, Carlson uses two images as a reference to critique the new branding. The first is an image of brown and green M&M from 2015 and the other was of purple M&M, who was introduced back in September. None of this is new information. However, Mars Wrigley did tease that the brand would be making an appearance in the upcoming Super Bowl.

After Carlson talked about the characters again, users on TikTok began using the audio clip of his voice to make comical videos where people lip sync and imagine what it was like to be in the studio that day. One audio clip alone has been used over 9,000 times since it was published on Jan. 12; many of the TikToks using the audio clip were posted and viewed extensively last weekend.

It’s hard to say whether the social media shit storm following Carlson’s comments prompted Mars Wrigley to stop using the mascots. It’s also possible that this could be a very strange marketing ploy leading up the Super Bowl, similar to how Planters killed Mr. Peanut and replaced him with baby nut.

As for what’s next, well, Maya Rudolph expressed optimism about the brand deal to Today. “I am a lifelong lover of the candy and I feel like it’s such an honor to be asked to be part of such a legendary brand’s campaign.” Let’s just hope she doesn’t appear on stage in regular old sneakers, instead of high-heel boots.

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