There’s a new potential casualty in the “woke” wars. More than a year of absurd conservative critique of M&M’s cartoon mascots has led the candy brand to take drastic action. M&M’s, owned by parent company Mars, Inc., is reportedly nixing its animated, anthropomorphic “spokescandies.” The familiar fictional characters will be replaced with Maya Rudolph, according to a Monday announcement from M&M’s official Twitter account.
“We get it—even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing,” the company wrote in its completely inane press release. “Which was the last thing M&M’s wanted since we’re all about bringing people together.”
Let’s pause here to acknowledge that there’s risk in covering any sort of corporate brand announcement as news—especially one like this that’s so bonkers it was clearly crafted to garner as much attention as possible. It’s fully possibly M&M’s has no real plans to overhaul its advertising strategy, and that this tweet is a ploy.
The season of bloated, narrative-driven Super Bowl ads is upon us. Maybe M&M’s is planning to release a 90-second commercial in which Maya Rudolph teams up with a rainbow of cartoon candies to destroy inequality, and your favorite Mars, Inc. characters rush in at the end—restored to their former glory. There is simply no way to know at this point. Gizmodo reached out to Mars with questions about the announcement and didn’t immediately hear back.
But if we take this M&M’s official tweet at face value: a Tucker Carlson crusade over cartoon characters’ sex appeal has tanked a decades-old advertising strategy. Which is wild.
In case you’re reading this and somehow not terminally online, a not-so quick refresher: Tucker Carlson first took to his Fox News platform to talk M&M’s in January 2022. In a segment about the cartoon mascots’ slight redesign, he derided the company’s decision to change the green and brown candies’ footwear. The green M&M went from wearing what look like knee-high go-go boots to flat sneakers and the brown one got chunkier heels, as part of an update that Mars, Inc. billed as “inclusive,” somehow. According to Carlson, the move was calculated to capitulate to the “woke mob.”
“M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous—until the moment you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them,” Carlson opined. “That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won,” he added—effectively admitting a sexual attraction to a cartoon candy character.
He followed that up with an even weirder bit where the Fox News host projected his own perspective onto the orange M&M’s mascot. “Maybe he doesn’t like all the ugly new shoes he sees around him,” he said. “Maybe he liked the sexy boots.”
From there, a torrent of rightwing outrage followed. M&M’s got exactly what it wanted with a marked uptick in searches related to its products. And the news cycle continued on.
Most recently, M&M’s reignited the conversation this month by introducing a new Purple spokescandy—ostensibly female and one of the more oblong peanut M&M’s. Also, the company started marketing an “all-female” pack of candies (read: green, brown, and purple). Predictably there was a corresponding Tucker Carlson segment about it, in which he speculates on the green M&M’s sexuality (based on a 2015 brand post) and calls the purple candy “plus size” and “obese.”
Now, M&M’s has said it’s giving up the whole thing. Carlson was right, the company seemed to admit. The woke mob went too far. Cartoon candies should be fuck-able by the standards of red-blooded American men. And, to make up for the company’s many mistakes, it is offering “beloved Maya Rudolph” as an apology prize.
And honestly, there’s not much more to say than that. I can’t believe I spent my afternoon writing 700+ words on this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ultimate news to come out of this is that Mars, Inc. and Fox News have been directly colluding to mutually boost each others’ search numbers. If we’re living in a computer simulation, someone should introduce a software update to make it less stupid.