Column: The Chocolate Blues

I love M&Ms. They’ve ranked among my favorite chocolate candies since I was a kid and used them to learn how to count. However, in the summer of 1995, I lost a bit of my affinity for the bite-size munchies when my favorite color, tan, was eliminated for another – blue.

Now, last week another new color was unveiled, which is purple. Purple? Blue was sort of weird, but purple is just disgusting. And to make matters worse, it’s the second time in five years that purple was a choice. Should we be expected to settle for a second-rate colored candy? I think not.

I already have had to swallow the choice for blue (though not really – I pick them out of each bag I get and throw them away). I like blue; in fact, it’s my favorite color. However, it is not an appetizing hue. Ever since August of 1995 when blue M&Ms were officially introduced into the chocolate mainstream, I have felt a bit jaded about this candy. I swear they taste just as I imagine evil might. And I have discovered I am not alone in my thoughts about these new colors.

There are several “anti-M&M” Web sites on the Internet and columns written by people with nothing to do other than study the texture and quality of M&Ms. One person actually said that blue M&Ms were “genetically inferior” to the rest of the colors. His scientific test was to squeeze each M&M and see how much pressure it took to break each piece of candy.

OK, I may be upset about the new colors, but I refuse to let them make me crazy. I really did love the tan M&Ms. I can understand the Mars Candy Co. folks wanted to add colors, but why did they have to remove the classic colors? I mean, tan goes with everything and was the perfect color for making M&M drawings (you know, like mosaics).

Now, just as I was attempting to make peace with the outcast M&Ms, purple is chosen. A poll was taken worldwide to determine which color would be the next M&M. Making their second appearances on the ballot in five years were pink and purple. Added to the lottery was aqua, a blue-like color that seemed close to beating purple.

At the M&M official site, visitors can click on a map of the world to see breakdowns of how each country voted. The United States voted for purple (49 percent) while aqua (29 percent) and pink (18 percent) trailed behind.

This increase in the variety of colors is disturbing. People can already order different colored M&Ms on the official Web site. In fact, there are 21 colors to choose. Organizations can also choose specific color mixes and have them pre-packaged for sale as fundraisers. Interestingly enough, this notion was suggested (though not acted upon) in 1999 by past Student Government president Brett Chambers, who sought green and gold M&Ms to embody the Bulls’ spirit.

So where does all this coloring end? M&Ms aren’t the only food to go Technicolor lately. There is a proliferation of colored foods that really turn my stomach. Green ketchup, red Mountain Dew, blue butter … all foods that will never make it to my shopping basket, let alone my mouth.

I suppose I will continue to eat M&Ms; I just can’t resist them, but my love for them is fading as these new colors enter the stream. But until M&Ms stop changing their colors, I’ll just have to keep picking out the blue and purple ones.