“I’m just gonna be me,” sings Purple, M&M’S newest “spokescandy,” in a new ad spot announcing her debut. “I’m ready to say hello to the world.”
Purple is the first new M&M spokescandy in a decade, an attempt by the brand to keep up the momentum of the recent rebranding (and desexualization) of the entire M&M’S crew. The latest addition to the team of anthropomorphized candy mascots was announced by parent company Mars today, promoting “acceptance and inclusivity with her earnest self-expression, joining Green and Brown as a fellow female cast member,” according to a press release sent to The Takeout.
With the arrival of Purple comes the release of her song and accompanying music video featuring saxophonist Grace Kelly, dancer and choreographers Devin Santiago and Colo Cag, and opera singer Anthony Roth Costanzo. Every time the song is streamed, M&M’S will donate $1 (up to $500,000) to Sing for Hope, a nonprofit promoting arts education.
But nowhere in the release does it say where or when (if at all) we can eat these new purple M&M’S. I reached out to the source to get some answers.
When and where can we buy purple M&M’S?
As it turns out, the purple M&M’S—or “lentils,” as they’re called in company parlance—are not a new product. These candies have actually been around for a while.
“It’s true, purple M&M’S have been making appearances on and off since the 1940s,” M&M’S tells The Takeout. “You can even buy purple M&M’S in bulk at MMS.com, M&M’S Stores worldwide, and select retailers.” According to CNN, violet was part of the candy’s original color lineup, only to be replaced by tan in 1949.
The character Purple, whose distinctions are high-top boots and thick eyelashes (to denote “female,” presumably), is a brand-new creation, but the purple candies are not. The arrival of Purple does not signify the arrival of purple lentils in M&M’S packages, though the company says purple lentils will make an appearance in limited-edition packs in the future.
At the same time, M&M’S is pushing a mostly unrelated Lil Nas X–inspired limited-edition pack of M&M’S that include pastel purple lentils featuring Lil Nas X’s face. A different shade of purple than Purple, yes, but also part of an initiative to raise money for Sing for Hope encouraging people to “show their true colors.”
Though purple is not a permanent fixture in current bags, M&M’S chose the color for its newest character because it is a “fan favorite.” In fact, in 2002, fans voted for purple to be the added into every bag, and the fanfare has seemingly continued since then, according to a statement from M&M’S:
At Mars, we like to say we are consumer obsessed, so with many fans vocalizing their love for the color, we knew that our new character would be a really exciting moment and a huge hit with many of our fans. We landed on this particular shade of purple as we felt it was the perfect complement to our other characters’ hues.
Let’s try our best to untangle this web: Purple M&M’S have been around since the brand’s inception in 1941, but the color is now being used to signify something “new” and “inclusive,” but it’s not a color that you can actually get in a regular bag of M&M’S, despite being a fan favorite, and is actually quite purposefully being excluded from bags, expect for Lil Nas X’s limited-edition bags that include a light purple lentil that is different enough from Purple the spokescandy’s coloring but is pushing the same message without acknowledging her existence. Phewph, I think we got everything.
All told, it seems that M&M’S is placing the majority of its focus on these mascots. Why not herald the arrival of this new character with a complementary candy that the public has already indicated its strong desire for? As M&M’S told us, you can already buy this color in bulk online, so the added strain of producing and distributing a particular hue doesn’t seem to be the issue.
Fans of M&M’S probably get more excited about the contents of the bag than the characters on the front of it. And with a recent renaissance of M&M’S flavor experimentation, adding one more color to the classic mix doesn’t feel like too harsh a demand.