If you're like me - a sugar-fiend of the highest order - then M&M's have probably been a staple part of your candy obsession since the year dot. They're one of those sweets that are impossible to eat just one of. No sooner have you reached into the bag and eaten one than you've scarfed down the whole packet in an orgy of chocolatey goodness, crunching into those hard multicoloured buttons with gusto.
The problem for M&M fans like me is that there hasn't been much by way of variety lately. Oh sure, there have been new flavours introduced in the past, but they were always short-lived ventures sold elsewhere. Most of the time the choice is a binary one between plain and peanut. They're both good, but it would be nice to have a third option.
Now M&M's have decided to mix things up a bit, and have promised a new iteration of the signature sweet that will surely change the brand forever. The announcement? Caramel M&M's. That's right, you heard it here first. Alongside the more traditional flavours, M&M's Caramel will consist of a soft, gooey caramel centre, covered in milk chocolate and coated in a hard sugary shell. Think of it like a tiny little Earth. The caramel is the chewy core, the milk chocolate is the mantle and the shell is the crust.
Mars, the same company which also manufactures Three Musketeers, Galaxy and Milky Way bars, have introduced alternative flavours in limited distribution in the past before, including dark chocolate, chilli, and mint, but producing the new caramel flavour has been a long and costly process. "Caramel is extremely trendy," stated Hank Izzo, vice president of Mars Inc R&D. "It's a $2.2 billion flavour segment and the fastest growing segment in food right now. We want to be part of this category."
"It was a big technological challenge for us," claims Izzo. "We've never before had a M&M lentil with a true soft centre, so we had to figure out how to not make the chocolate too sticky or too soft that it could collapse." In order to meet consumer demands, Mars has invested $100 million to build a new manufacturing site in Topeka, Kansas.
M&M's were first manufactured back in 1941 as a convenient way for American GI's to carry chocolate with them without it melting. The company's longest-lasting slogan reflects this: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand." The chocolate treats are now sold in as many as 100 countries and more than 400 million individual M&Ms are produced every day in the United States.
Only time will tell whether Caramel M&M's will attain the enduring popularity that the other types enjoy; we'll just have to wait and see. Don't shoot the messenger, but Caramel M&M's won't reach stores until May, 2017. Sit tight!