A Short History of Mars Chocolate

 By: Tauqeer Hassan
Mars chocolate is owned by a US global corporation Mars Inc. which is a privately owned company. It was founded in 1920 by Ethel Mars and has become the one of the world's largest confectionary brands. The most famous are Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Bounty, Skittles and of course Mars.

Frank C. Mars and his second wife Ethel started a confectionary factory in 1911 in Tacoma-Washington known as the Mars Candy Factory. In 1920, the factory was relocated to Minnesota under the name Mar-O-Bar but the name failed to inspire the brand loyalty and was changed to Mars Inc. after incorporation.

Mars were well known for their quite unique chocolate bar called Milky Way in the 1920s. It had good sales and helped the company to grow.

Mars introduced Snickers chocolate bar in the early 1930s. This bar was named in the memory of a favorite horse of Mars Family. However this did not prove to affect the sales a lot. Later its sales increased bar to levels exceeding those of the Milky Way bar.
The son of Frank and Ethel Mars, Forrest Mars Sr. joined the family business after it was formed but disagreements in the family because of Forrest's desire to experiment new products and promote them outside USA led to a separation and Forrest relocated to England where he formed Mars Limited at Slough.

In 1932, Forrest was given $50000 and the recipe for the Milky Way bar after things had reached a weak situation and he was told to follow his own destiny. When Forrest arrived in England, he discovered that Milky Way bar was not up to European tastes. The new product could not be named Milky Way so it was named Mars and it proved to be a quick success in England and other European nations.

After the death of Frank Mars in 1934, Forrest Mars Sr. took over Mars Inc and Mars Limited along with his sister Patricia. Forrest returned to US and the company was merged under the name of Mars Inc. Mars continued to sell and market the Milky Way and Snickers bars in the US while Snickers bar was introduced under the name Marathon in Europe.

Forrest was on a sales trip to Spain during the 1930s. He witnessed soldiers in the Spanish civil war eating chocolate beads. Sensing a market for small chocolate beads, he attempted to develop his own recipe.

As the company has continued to grow, new factories in new markets outside of Mars, Inc. became traditional markets of UK and US.

A chocolate factory at Veghel in the Netherlands was opened in 1963 and expanded producing other foods in the Mars family of products. It is either the largest or second largest chocolate factory in the world owned by Mars.

There was a criticism of Mars chocolate from environmentalists that the company has not publicly endorsed and supported the fair trade movement. Mars countered it by stating that their own program of sustainable development and partnership with cacao farmers was a more progressive approach.

A formerly independent company called Dove Chocolate bought by Mars Inc. in 1986. The company developed nontraditional sales channels starting with party plans and private distributors working from home. Mars Inc has successfully introduced new chocolate brands in the market since 1990s.

In 2009, Mars published a book entitled 'Chocolate: The North American Experience' in association with the Smithsonian Institute. It was a history of chocolate production and cacao processing in North America since the early times.
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