Much ado about M&Ms

There are a lot of things worth getting upset about and debating. Anthropomorphized spokescandies are not among them, I would submit. But in the midst of the culture wars, we are arguing about talking candy, too.

Some time back, Mars, the owner of the M&M brand, decided that its iconic spokescandies weren’t “inclusive” enough. The folks in the Mars marketing department responded by making the female spokescandies generally less svelte and less feminine.

(This raises questions about what “inclusivity” actually means. What about inclusivity for slender and conventionally attractive women, after all?)

That might have been the end of it. Then Tucker Carlson of Fox News got involved. In a blistering commentary, Carlson denounced the new, frumpier spokescandies:

“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. That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won.”

Would I want to “have a drink” with any talking candy? Hmm…let me get back to you on that. Tucker Carlson has a point, to be sure; but perhaps there are better points to be made out there.

It’s foolish for a candy company to agonize over whether or not an anthropomorphized chocolate candy is “inclusive”. This is the kind of nonsense that only Ivy League MBAs worry about. The rest of just want our M&Ms.

Tucker Carlson, though, overreacted to a situation that could have been dismissed with a “whatever” and an eye-roll. Not that he was going to do that, of course. Tucker Carlson’s business model requires that he constantly present his viewers with fresh sources of outrage.

And then Mars provided the final overreaction. This past week, the company breathlessly announced that the spokescandies would be retired because of all the “controversy”. Henceforth, Maya Rudolph will represent M&Ms in ads and TV commercials.

I did enjoy Maya Rudolph’s performance in The Good Place, so I don’t mind the change. But was there ever really that much controversy, beyond the aforementioned Tucker Carlson commentary? I don’t recall any calls for conservatives to boycott M&Ms, or anything like that.

Even CNN, no fan of conservatives or Tucker Carlson, was skeptical. Perhaps this final overreaction was a Mars publicity stunt, calculated to stir up attention for those little pieces of hard-coated chocolate.