Can I Eat M&M’s Without Having to Think About Their Personalities?

Mmm, candy. Photo: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you are deeply invested in M&M’s, the Mars company behind the candy has bewildering news for you: The M&M’s characters are getting a woke makeover. Yes, that’s right — no one is safe from the demands of cancel culture. “The redesign is focused on creating a sense of belonging and community, as well as spotlighting the characters’ ‘personalities, rather than their gender,’” CBS News reported on Thursday.

What might that possibly look like? Well, the green M&M is getting a bit less sexy. Gone are the white go-go boots for which she is known. She will be “better represented to reflect confidence and empowerment, as a strong female, and known for much more than her boots.” At last: true equality.

As a journalist, and as a woman, I have a few questions about this news. Join me on a journey of discovery.

Why do M&M’s have gender in the first place?

Remember, they are candy. Or “lentils,” as Mars apparently calls them — that’s another thing I learned from CBS today. Does Mars think people won’t eat chocolate unless the company genders it? That I will pass up the bag in the vending machine if there aren’t any girl M&M’s? Mars, you have vastly underestimated my commitment to junk food. I do not need anthropomorphized characters to convince me to consume garbage. I can do that all on my own.

Why must the M&M’s be feminist?

I suppose that if the M&M’s are gendered, a version of M&M patriarchy might exist and feminism might be necessary. This thought leads me to unbearable places. I resent that, and I resent Mars. I wonder, Do the M&M’s have employee resource groups? What are their thoughts on diversity in the workplace? The wage gap? Universal child care? This is my personal Event Horizon. I do not need empowered candy! I just need it to divert me, briefly, from my woes. I am a strong and confident female, and I have simple needs.

Why does an M&M have an anxiety disorder?

“The orange M&M, who has an anxious personality, will ‘embrace his true self, worries and all,’” CBS reported. “According to Mars, the orange M&M is ‘one of the most relatable characters with Gen-Z,’ which is the ‘most anxious generation.’”

I am too old to speak on behalf of Gen Z. Today, I even wore skinny jeans. But I can speak on behalf of people with anxiety disorders, and let me tell you: Representation is overrated. I don’t think I even knew Mars had an orange-M&M character, let alone that he required therapeutic intervention. I’m anxious just thinking about it! Has he realized he’s a cartoon and is having a crisis? That his life is just a simulation — or, worse, a marketing gimmick? The orange M&M is the only one alive to the horror of his existence. What a pity.

Does anyone care about this?

The existence of the report implies an audience for its contents. Certainly the story seems to have taken over Twitter. It even distracted our Slack channel from Joe Manchin for a time. Nevertheless, I don’t believe this public fascination occurred in quite the fashion Mars wished. The general consensus appears to be that the story is demented. Did anyone want to give the green M&M a makeover? Did anyone think about her at all? It’s not clear what Mars is getting out of this exactly; M&M’s must have a steady customer base — it’s not as if a more progressive candy would win new hearts and minds. Sometimes a candy is just a candy.

Who Gave the M&M’s Anxiety?