Why M&M’s Are Changing Their Spokesperson to Maya Rudolph

The long beloved spokescandies are retiring, likely because of conservative media backlash.
By Madison E. Goldberg
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images)

M&Ms trends across Twitter and search engines today following a big announcement. The long famous “spokescandies” are to be retired amid ongoing (and surprising) outrage from conservative media personalities, notably Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.

@holdensmith962

#mandm #greenmandm #tuckercarlson #news #foryou #candy #hershey

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

Though the criticism may seem trivial, Fox News remains the most watched non-sports cable network, reaching 1.49 million viewers as of 2022. This left Mars, the parent company of M&Ms, with a large audience to answer to. Ahead of the Super Bowl, a sporting event known for its ad placements, M&Ms announced a big change–comedian Maya Rudolph is now their spokesperson.

While Rudolph’s fans were excited for her, others were quick to criticize the brand’s choice to adhere to absurd conservative claims about their advertising. The green M&M was the initial topic of conversation, with some of the brand’s market research alleging that viewers felt the M&M was too sexualized. This resulted in a change of footwear, which then sparked further backlash from right wing media personalities.

@bffspod

The green M&M has been changed because the old one was depicted as too flirty… what?

♬ original sound – BFFs Pod

You might be asking, how did we get here? Here’s a definitive timeline of events in the M&M saga.

A History of the Green M&M

The M&Ms spokescandies actually all began as gender neutral in original ad campaigns from the 60s to the 90s.

The candy’s unique quality was its coating that made it an easy on-the-go snack for children to take to movie theaters or school.

The green M&M was reintroduced as a woman in 1997, a popular move for the brand that would later create controversy. Gen Z has a specific nostalgia for the female version of the Green M&M, as it was used in ads in the early 00’s. This of course has led many to take to TikTok amid the recent news.

@louislevanti

justice for the green m&m! #mandms #fypシ

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

In January 2022, the Green M&Ms heeled white boots were swapped for white sneakers as a part of a company wide mission for inclusivity. This led to a lot of mixed reactions–some didn’t feel like it was necessary in the first place, while others were outraged at what conservative media personalities like Tucker Carlson have coined “the woke agenda.”

@rraviioli

WHY #greenmandm #candylivesmatter #bringbackthegreenmandm

♬ original sound – gracie

In retrospect, the real controversy was never about the shoes, but what they stood for. The 2021 Super Bowl ad for M&Ms, which featured several celebrities, revealed that the brown and green M&Ms, both women, were a couple.

@joshhelfgott

M&M confirmed the Green & Brown M&Ms are Lesbians in a 2017 Tweet🏳️‍🌈 Follow for More #lgbtq #gay

♬ Classical Music – Classical Music

The internet (and Fox News) had a lot to say about that.

Internet Reactions to LGBTQ+ M&Ms

Many thought that the addition of the LGBTQ+ storyline into the M&Ms ad campaigns was a positive and heartfelt decision that showed progress in mainstream advertising.

@akibrento

OUR TRANS LESBIAN ICON!!!!!!!!!!!! #greenmandm #mandm #trans #lesbian #gay #icon #lgbt

♬ glow up challenge – spencer 💅

@femboy.hooterz.reject

The ship we all need to recognize 🥺🧡🥀 #brownmnm #greenmnm #ship #lesbiancouplegoals

♬ original sound – Yo

Fox News hosts were quick to criticize the decision. The network has come under fire in recent years for its racist and homophobic coverage of news and cultural discussions. In the comments on M&Ms announcement today, some criticized their decision to stay neutral as indirectly catering to Tucker Carlson and Fox.

Others were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Carlson, who frequently refers to people who point out controversies in the entertainment world related to women, BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people as “snowflakes” for being too sensitive. His comments fit his own definition of the term.

Others took a look at Carlson’s previous comments on the brand and pointed out how strange it was to be sexualizing a children’s cartoon character.

@madebyconor

Who’s your fav S*XIE cartoon character? #Tucker #foxnews #mms #hot #RufflesOwnYourRidges #scary #mnms #fyp #upage #commentary #Comedy #nostalgia #politics #mmschocolate

♬ Hoist the Colours – Colm R. McGuinness

The hypocrisy of the whole situation trends on Twitter today.

Influencer and activist Matt Bernstein put together a video compilation of several clips in which Fox News hosts get into heated discussions about the M&Ms.

Others theorized that the spokescandies are not really gone–that the Super Bowl ad will include Maya Rudolph alongside the candies as they unionize.

Others reacted to the situation with satirical humor, commenting on Carlson’s repeat comments.

Others used pop culture moments to point out the memeable quality of the situation.

The Real Controversy

Aside from LGBTQ+ and plus sized M&Ms who wear high heels, the parent company faces a much larger controversy. Mars, Nestlé and Hershey are embroiled in ongoing child slavery lawsuits. In 2021, eight children claimed they were used in slave labor on cacoa plantations on the Ivory Coast in West Africa.

The current advertising debacle is shining a light on the suit, which had previously received little social media attention.

Fox News notoriously comments disparagingly about diverse communities, which is why some TikTok creators theorize they haven’t discussed the ongoing child slavery lawsuit.

@rynnstar

Thank God you’re here to break the big stories, Tucker #wokemandms

♬ original sound – Crookedmedia

Slavery in the chocolate industry remains a major global issue, with an estimated 23% of the population of the Ivory Coast and Ghana enslaved on cocoa plantations. These areas supply cocoa to roughly 70% of the world.

This issue has paved way for the fair trade food industry, which provides an ethical solution to the constant need for cocoa supply.

@bdthechef

BFAH Ep. 26 – Cocoa Production #bhm #cocoa #bfah #africa #chocolate #fairtrade #blacktiktok #blm #westafrica

♬ Trap, hip hop, dark beat ♪(963369) – Ninja_Muzik_Tokyo

Carlson’s Reaction to the New M&Ms Campaign

After a day of mass internet reactions to the M&Ms situation, Carlson responded on his show this evening. He referred to the candies as “neurotic” and “frumpy,” essentially standing by his initial opinions surrounding the candies. Carlson concluded the segment with several fat-phobic and homophobic comments.

Given this clip from tonight’s show, it’s likely that LGBTQ+ storylines in advertising will remain at the forefront of conservative criticism.

The fifty-seventh Super Bowl will be held on February 12. It is here that the now much anticipated M&Ms commercial will be unveiled, starring Maya Rudolph. Whether the M&Ms are actually in retirement or not will likely come to light by this date.

If there’s one thing to come of the massive online discourse surrounding the long standing ad campaign, its that at the end of the day, the camaraderie of the candy might be what matters most. And hopefully, that candy can be produced ethically in the future.