M&M's originated in the United States in 1941, and are now sold in as many as 100 countries. More than 400 million individual M&M's are produced every day in the United States. They are produced in different colors, some of which have changed over the years. The candy-coated chocolate concept was inspired by a method used to allow soldiers to carry chocolate without having it melt. The company's longest-lasting slogan reflects this: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand."

In 1995, tan M&Ms were discontinued to be replaced by another color. Dark brown was already in use and the manufacturer wanted to update their product. In early 1995, Mars ran a promotion in which consumers were invited to vote on which of blue, pink, or purple would replace the tan M&M's. Blue was the winner, replacing tan in late 1995. Consumers could vote by calling 1-800-FUN-COLOR. Yellow, green, red and orange were added over the years, with red and orange being discontinued due to a food scare over a type of red dye. M&M's were never made with this type of dye, and eventually red and orange were returned to the lineup of colors.

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