M&M’s has replaced its “polarising” chocolate mascots after its decision to change the characters’ footwear in its “woke” adverts sparked fury.
In the latest culture wars battle, the Mars-owned confectionary brand dropped its anthropomorphised figures less than a year after they were rebranded, following sustained criticism from commentators.
The mascots, which each have arms, legs and facial features, have been part of the brand for decades, but were given a modern makeover last year.
The green M&M character saw her heels replaced with trainers to, according to Mars, make her “better represented to reflect confidence and empowerment, as a strong female, and known for much more than her boots”.
The brown M&M swapped stilettos for lower, more professional heels.
There were also personality tweaks. The orange M&M, who has an anxious personality, was changed to “embrace his true self, worries and all”. Mars described the character as “one of the most relatable characters with Gen-Z”, which it claimed was the “most anxious generation”.
The red M&M, who has shown bullying tendencies in the past, was tasked with being more kind to his co-characters, Mars added.
Last September, a new oval-shaped purple M&M was added to represent the peanut version of the chocolate. Just weeks ago, Mars said that for International Women’s Day, the company would release special female-character-only packaging.
However, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News anchor, said on his show: “Woke M&M’s have returned. The green M&M got her boots back, but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe?
“And there’s also a plus-sized, obese purple M&M, so we’re gonna cover that, of course, because that’s what we do.”
He responded to M&M’s dropping the characters on Twitter:
Our response to the end of the obese and lesbian M&M spokescandies pic.twitter.com/HuSfAryyQi
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) January 24, 2023
Martha MacCallum, another Fox News presenter, said: “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.
“I think that makes China say, ‘Oh, good, keep focusing on that. Keep focusing on giving people their own colour M&M’s while we take over all of the mineral deposits in the entire world’.”
Nick Adams, an Australian-born American political commentator and self-described “alpha male”, said: “Every American with half a brain should be outraged by M&M’s going woke. This is no laughing matter. It’s a legitimate crisis. Manhood is under attack like no other time in world history.”
M&M’s has since announced a dramatic u-turn, saying it will “take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies”. Instead, it has employed Maya Rudolph, the actress famed for Bridesmaids and Saturday Night Live, as the face of the brand.
It said in a statement: “America, let’s talk. 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 internet.
“But now we get it – even a candy’s shoes can be polarising. Which was the last thing M&M’s wanted, since we’re all about bringing people together.
“Therefore, we have decided to take an indefinite pause from the spokescandies. In their place, we are proud to introduce a spokesperson America can agree on: Maya Rudolph. We are confident Ms Rudolph will champion the power of fun to create a world where everyone feels they belong.”
However, there has been some speculation that the move may be a set-up to generate publicity ahead of a new Super Bowl advert.
In the brand’s press release ahead of the American football season finale on Feb 12, it said: “The latest campaign extends our purposeful work over the last year, but is rooted in a new creative territory, and we can’t wait for our fans to see what’s about to unfold.”