As I walk through life, I carry myself with the knowledge of several essential truths. You have to love yourself before you can love someone else, for example. Being constantly busy does not necessarily mean that you’re being productive. And then, of course, the green M&M is sexy.
With her white go-go boots and perpetual smize, for decades the green M&M has persisted as the definitively “sexy” one of the anthropomorphic M&M brand crew, her sexual prowess emphasized in commercials and marketing materials. M&M’s even created glamour shots of her, in which she appears to be stripping off her green candy coating like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model to reveal her chocolate...nude body? Or is she flaying her green skin to reveal her flesh and bone underneath, like a grotesque scene from a Clive Barker novel? Who knows, who cares! This M&M fucks!
This sexy connection is in part because of the long-held myth, beginning in the 1970s according to Snopes, that green M&Ms are an aphrodisiac. For years the candy company avoided singling out green M&Ms, aside from a 1992 lawsuit against a company that manufactured green-only chocolate candies (“The Green Ones”) that looked suspiciously like M&Ms. But beginning in 1997 the company would seize upon the association when the candy underwent a rebrand. In the 1990s M&M’s had lost crucial brand recognition, and the company hired ad agency BBDO to rebrand the candy into a series of characters with personalities. They would roll out the scheming Red, the clueless Yellow, and the cool Blue, and then finally Green, deemed the sexy one, and given high-heeled white go-go boots to accentuate her legs, Susan Credle, the agency’s creative director at the time, told Business Insider.
Green first made her debut on television, doubling down on the character’s seductive nature in a series of spicy commercials. In 1997 M&M’s released a series of spots with comedian Dennis Miller, who appears in the spot interviewing the character “Green.” “Is it true what they say about green M&M’s?” he asks her, to which she replies defensively. In another, she jokes about how she “doesn’t take off her shell,” while the red M&M stares at her with horny cartoon eyes. The brand also stressed how “irresistible” she was, and how she “adds credence to the rumor that her mere presence is a turn-on” in a press release at the time. The spot and the rebranding of the M&M’s as specific characters was a stark pivot for the candy, which had up until that point been “genderless” according to M&M’s director of marketing, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In a 2001 ad for the candy, just one of many spots highlighting the Green M&M’s sexy reputation at the time, a woman arrives for a date in an outfit her boyfriend requested: a shiny green dress, with white gloves, and white M&M-branded shoes. She expresses her concern about the look (“who wears gloves with boots?”) but her boyfriend is too distracted to listen, since he can’t stop looking at the Green M&M, clearly the original outfit inspiration. “The best I can offer is the observation that the weird spectacle of men and boys literally lusting after candy makes M&M’s seem not so much irresistible to all, but rather the vaguely shameful fetish of a few,” author Rob Walker wrote about the ad for Slate at the time. In 2008 M&M’s even released a green-only bag for Valentine’s Day, winking at the color’s reputation, with a press release that emphasized the Green M&M’s “luscious lips, slightly suggestive smile and white-hot go-go boots.”
M&M’s kept Green sexy, but at a certain point, it seemed like her presence alone wasn’t cutting it anymore. The brand needed another girl M&M, but this time they’d go to the empowering girlboss route, rather than add another sexpot into the mix. In 2012 the brand debuted a new lady M&M: a girlboss named Mrs. Brown, who had apparently been working as “Chief Chocolate Officer” at M&M’s this whole time. Not long after the brand Twitter account shared an image of Brown and Green holding hands at the beach (aw) with the caption “It’s rare Ms. Brown and I get to spend time together without some colourful characters barging in” in 2015, people began to wonder if Brown and Green were actually together.
“Wait, are these M&Ms lesbians?” asked PinkNews. “These Lesbian M&Ms Will Make All Your Chocolate Cravings Valid,” Pride.com wrote. Old images of the Green M&M before she was rebranded as a sexy femme fatale also created a fanbase that believes she’s a lesbian and trans, as Joseph Longo outlined in a deep-dive on the queer readings of both the Green and Brown M&Ms for Mel. It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that there’s deeply cursed fan art dedicated to both the Green and Brown M&M.
But no matter her sexuality, the Green M&M’s eroticism persists, adding a little frisson of horniness to the humble candy bowl.