An American Candy Combat Veteran Turns 78
In March of 2019, an American institution turned 78. A combat veteran, it has been next to our servicemen all over the world, through seven major wars―from World War II up to today, serving in the Middle East and the Far Pacific.
Help celebrate the 78th anniversary of the M&M.
The candy was specifically created for the American military, especially those serving overseas. Chocolate had in the early Twentieth Century become a favorite candy delight for Americans. However, it was susceptible to heat. At temperatures of over 75 degrees, chocolate began to soften and break down; obviously a problem. In tropical or desert parts of the world, storage and distribution was almost impossible.
By the end of 1940, another world war had been going on for over a year. Europe had been overrun and occupied, and the Far East faced a fanatic, Japanese expansion program.
Around this time, 34-year old Forrest E. Mars, Sr. of the Mars Company wanted to create a chocolate candy that could withstand hot weather. The idea had come to him during the Spanish Civil War. He saw British soldiers eating a candy called ‘Smarties,’ chocolate pellets with a hardened sugary colored shell to keep them from melting. Mars made a couple experimental batches of his own, and on March 3, 1941, received a patent for his process.
The next day, he signed a contract with the Hershey’s Corporation to form a new company. It became M&M Limited, so-named using the initials of Mr. Mars and for Bruce Murrie, the son of Hershey Chocolate's president William F. R. Murrie. Forrest owned the patent, but the candy was to be made by Hershey, because chocolate at the time was about to be rationed, and Hershey had control of the chocolate supplies, which were to only go to the military.
The deal made, they immediately began production in a factory in Newark, New Jersey. Each of the pieces had a chocolate center and came in one of five colors: red, yellow, purple, green or dark brown.
Since the product had been designed with foot soldiers in mind, the new company's first big customer was naturally the U.S. Army, which readily saw the advantages of this small, tasty, high-calorie energy product for men in the field. During World War II, M&Ms were only sold to the military. The candy came in cardboard tubes.
Over the years, this American confectionary staple has observed the following highlights:
Even today, M&Ms go wherever our military goes.
We salute the American serviceman’s long-time field ration best friend: the M&M.
There is a bridge in Edgartown Massachusetts that is called the American Legion Memorial Bridge (some locals call it the “Big Bridge”). Along this bridge runs a part of Seaview Avenue, which connects Edgartown with the town of Oak Bluffs. Coincidentally, the bridge also divides the Atlantic Ocean from Sengekontacket Pond.
Does the bridge look somewhat familiar?
It should. How about now?
It is also called the "Jaws Bridge," because it was made famous in Steven Spielberg's 1975 blockbuster "Jaws." It was at this Amity Island bridge (in the film) that the famous shark scene with Michael in the pond was filmed.
Despite its nickname, the bridge is a small one, just a few car-lengths in total, and it has been refurbished in recent years. The stone quay that Roy Scheider ran on during the Jaws attack 'in the pond' is still there and runs perpendicular to the bridge. The beach on the ocean side, called Joseph Sylvia State Beach, was where the rest of the scene was filmed.
Japanese Surrender Trivia
Provided by YNC Merle Pratt, USN-Ret.
Did you ever wonder why the United States choose a U.S. Navy Iowa-class battleship as the location for Japan's surrender in World War II, even though they were in Tokyo Bay? Why couldn't they have used a building on land?
Nothing says "You're utterly defeated" more than having to board the enemy's massive battleship in the waters of your own capital city. A naval vessel is considered sovereign territory for the purposes of accepting a surrender. You just don't get that if you borrow a ceremonial space from the host country. In addition, the Navy originally wanted the USS South Dakota to be the surrender site. It was President Truman who changed it to the USS Missouri, that state being Truman's home state.
The Japanese delegation had to travel across water to the Missouri, which sat at the center of a huge U.S. fleet. It's a bit like those movie scenes where someone enters a big-wig's office, and the big-wig is sitting silhouetted at the end of a long room, behind a massive desk. The appellant has to walk all the way to that desk along a featureless space, feeling small, exposed, vulnerable and comparatively worthless before the mogul enthroned in dramatic lighting before him. By the time he gets there the great speech he had prepared is reduced to a muttered sentence or two.
In addition, the USS Missouri flew the flag of Commodore Perry's 19th century gun-boat diplomacy mission, the one that opened the closeted Edo-era Japan to the world and forced upon them the Meiji restoration, which then ended the rule of the samurai class.
The symbolism here is pretty clear - "This is how we want you to be, and remember what happens to countries that defy us." It was particularly humiliating for a proud country like Japan, and that was entirely the point.
The symbolism of the ceremony was even greater than that. The ship was anchored at the precise
latitude/longitude recorded in Perry's log during his 1845 visit, symbolizing the purpose of both visits to open Japan to the West. Perry's original flag was also present, having been flown all the
way from the Naval Academy for the ceremony.
When the Japanese delegation came aboard, they were forced to use an accommodation ladder situated just forward of Turret #1. The freeboard (distance between the ship's deck and the water line) there makes the climb about twice as long as if it had been set up farther aft, where the freeboard of the ship is less. (NOTE: This was even more of an issue for the Japanese surrender party, because the senior member, Foreign Affairs Minister Shigemitsu, was crippled by an assassination attempt in 1932, losing his right leg in the process.
The #1 and #2 turrets for the ceremony had been traversed about 20 degrees to starboard. The ostensible reason for this was to get the turret overhangs out of the way to create more room for the ceremony on the starboard veranda deck. However, in fact this would have only required traversing Turret #2 if that had been the real reason. The real reason though, was that the turret positions put the massive 16" gun barrels directly over the heads of the Japanese. They were literally boarding the ship "under the gun."
The honor guard of U.S. sailors (side boys) were all hand-picked to be over six feet tall, a further intimidation of the short-statured Japanese. The surrender documents themselves, one copy for the Allies and a second one for the Japanese, contained identical English-language texts. But the Allied copy was bound in good quality leather, while the Japanese copy was bound with light canvas whose stitching looked like it had been done by a drunken tailor using kite string.
After the signing ceremony, the Japanese delegation was not invited for tea and cookies; they were shuffled off the ship as an Allied air armada of over 400 aircraft flew overhead, a final reminder that American forces still had the ability to continue fighting should the Japanese have second thoughts on surrender.
The American Legion
Reynoldsburg Post 798
P.O. Box 58
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
The next regularly scheduled post meeting (2nd Thursday each month) will be on Thursday, July 11th, at 1900 hrs. The meeting location will be as usual at the F.O.E. Eagles Club on Brice Rd.