Mars Inc. has issued a recall of its best-selling chocolate candy in 55 countries. The voluntary recall was due to plastic being found in their candy bars. Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, marked the initial day of the recall. Snickers, Celebration, Milky Way, Mars, and Mini Mix are the candy products that have been listed. As ABC News reported, the recall affects candy with the “Best Before” dates between June 9, 2016, and Jan. 8, 2017.
A spokesman for Mars Candy in Germany did not specify exactly what the object was or which countries were included in the recall. They merely confirmed they were one of the countries affected.
Similarly, a spokesman for the Netherlands branch of the United States candy company told the Associated Press that there would be a news release issued later and the spokesman did not reveal which other countries were being asked to recall their Mars candy either. There have been no reports released yet for plans to recall any of the candy in the U.S.
Mars is a popular brand based in McLean, Virginia, one of the largest and most wealthy corporate names in the country. They have 72,000 employees, more than a third of them are in America, nonunionized, and the majority of the U.S. workers are involved in manufacturing. A cursory glance at their website reveals the vast array of brands they own. Churning out processed foods is truly their bread and butter, as they own and produce a variety of brands that have become ubiquitous in almost every major grocery store in the U.S.
On the official website, their brands are broken down into neat pastel multicolored tiles listed as Mars Chocolate, Petcare, Food, Drinks, Wrigley, and Symbioscience. Mars owns products that one would not have associated with what began as a small candy company in 1923, as diverse as Uncle Ben’s Rice, to Pedigree Dog Food, Whiskas, and Extra Gum. The Symbioscience branch “is the global health and life sciences segment of Mars, Inc.” whose main goal is to “Commercialize products that positively impact the health of people, pets and the planet.”
Humorous Soylent Green theories aside, it does not seem as though the recall of their candy in Europe will cause much of a dent in their earnings. The Mars family is listed third on Forbes 2015 List of America’s Richest Families, with a net worth of $80 billion. The famously reclusive Mars family, brothers Forrest Jr. and John, and sister Jaqueline, own 100 percent of the massive corporation.
To the casual observer, the Mars Inc. conglomerate may give off whiffs of vacuous corporate greed, intent on slurping up any and all commodities that even vaguely fall within its many spheres. The truth is less nefarious, although the company seems to have a good sense of humor about itself. Mars employees are sometimes referred to as Martians.
Fortune reported that when former President Paul Michaels made a business trip to Canada, the border agent queried as to the nature of his visit. He jokingly replied, “Global chocolate domination.” In 2013, the corporation had numerous multi-billion dollar brands, with Snickers and M&M’s being touted as America’s most popular chocolate candy. The company has a history of secrecy, the members of the Board are unknown, and the family members haven’t given an interview since the early ’90s.
To compound that, there is a juicy family legacy of Depression-era fortitude and a hard-laced dedication to their products that has permeated the corporation and continues to influence their business model today. The initial reaction towards the recall of their most popular candy in 55 countries has been to pull all candy that are possibly at risk, no small feat for the one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers. The various websites for their candy also have an age-based blocker installed, under the promise of the Mars Marketing Code, which details the goal of the company to avoid marketing to impressionable children, at least online.
Perhaps not quite the looming silent face of corporate evil, the Mars corporation is one that purports to act wholeheartedly in the name of their five principles, (Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom), which are etched into the walls of their executive offices. Fortune listed Mars as number 85 on their list of Top 100 Companies to Work For, and the American employees seem to attest to that. A New Jersey site-quality and food safety manager explained that almost 30 years ago, as a janitor in Henderson, Nev., he had been encouraged to go to community college by his employer. Mars even paid for his tuition and covered the cost of his books.
The first Mars candy business went by the moniker Mar-O-Bar, created by Frank Mars and his industrious son, Forrest Mars Sr, in the ’20s. Over time, they created the chewy nougat-filled Milky Way. It was billed as a cheaper, larger alternative to Hershey’s and helped the company take off. In 1930, with the advent of Snickers, Forrest Sr. and his father parted ways. With his father’s blessing and Milky Way recipe, Forrest traveled to Europe and learned Swiss chocolate-making. He created the Mars Bar, as well as M&Ms. He also helped blaze the trail in the burgeoning pet food industry in England.
Forrest Sr.’s sons, John and Forrest Jr. ruled as co-presidents after Forrest Sr. passed away. They bolstered the business with sales of the worldwide candy favorites, M&M’s, Snickers, Maltesers, Twix, and Dove, among many others. Notably, the idiosyncracies of the hardworking father were distributed throughout the sons, who were famously cheap, despite their earnings.
According to Fortune, they were completely focused on global expansion and achieved just that. In 1979, they were among the first candy corporations to persuade stores to place candy displays near cash registers, to inspire countless sugar-fueled impulse buys and hysteric tantrums thrown by children worldwide.
The Mars brothers stepped down as co-presidents from Mars Inc. in 1991 and 2001. For the first time in the company’s multigenerational history, an outside source was hired. Paul Michaels, formerly of Proctor & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, was assigned President of Mars Inc. to do the daily work of running the company. Michaels was responsible for the doubling of Mars candy revenue, due to the acquisition of Wrigley Gum. Michaels resigned in 2014, with Grant Reid, the President of the Mars Chocolate division, stepping in to assume the role.
Mars Inc. is a historic testament to the power of candy, as an insular powerhouse of a company that thankfully is not above pulling any and all chances of risky candy from the shelves of stores in Europe. It has not yet been revealed how the plastic was discovered in the candy, or how far-reaching the consequences will be on the Chocolate candy division. A recall of Snickers, Milky Way, Celebration, Mini-Mix, and Mars Bars might be a momentary blip on the timeline of the multi-billion dollar company.
Opinion By Juanita Lewis
Edited by Jeanette Smith & Cathy Milne
CBS News: Snickers, Milky Way and other Mars candy bars recalled
Mars: Mars, Incorporated President Paul S. Michaels to Retire in December 2014; 26-YEAR Mars Veteran, Grant F. Reid to Lead Organization
Fortune: Mars Incorporated: A pretty sweet place to work
Mars: Brands, Global Leadership
Top Image Courtesy of shoko riegel’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Valerie Everett’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License