American Legion Reynoldsburg Post 798 12th District Council Department of Ohio
                                                  American Legion                                                 Reynoldsburg Post 798                                                  12th District Council                                                  Department of Ohio

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.

The impact the candy had on our service men and women created a huge demand back home. After the war, production expanded to where the factory had to be relocated twice to larger locations, and then a second factory was opened.

Over the years, this American confectionary staple has observed the following highlights:

  • During the war, the candy, only sold to the military, was distributed in cardboard tubes. Candy bags were not started until after the war.
  • In 1948, with the candy now also being sold to the public, M&M Limited introduced an advertising slogan that would become legendary―one that underscored the very reason for its creation: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • In 1950, the candy started being produced with a black “M” imprinted on each piece, making them unique. The black color was changed to white in 1954.
  • In 1954, a second product was introduced: Peanut M&Ms. There was only one color: tan. Other colors were added six years later.
  • That same year, two advertising cartoon characters debuted: Mr. Plain and Mr. Peanut.
  • By 1956, M&M’s became the #1 candy in the United States.
  • In 1976, the color orange was added to the mix to replace red, which was discontinued in response to a “red dye scare.” Red Dyes #2 and #4 havd been evaluated by the Health Dept. to be carcinogenic in nature. Although M&M's were made with the less controversial Red Dye #40, the public was wary of any food being dyed red. Red M&M's were re-introduced in 1987.
  • In 1981, at the specific request of the crew, M*Ms were carried aboard NASA’s first space shuttle, Columbia, thus being the first candy to venture into space.
  • In 1983, with the Army’s creation of MREs (Meal, Ready-to-Eat), M&Ms were included, described in military-speak as ‘pan-coated chocolate discs’ (the military never included brand names). In 2004, ‘pan-coated oval/round milk chocolate with peanuts’ were officially added to MREs; you guessed it: Peanut M&Ms.
  • In 1984, M&Ms became the Official Snack of the  Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
  • Since 1988, specially designed packages of Presidential M&M's have been given as souvenirs to guests of the president of the United States. 
  • A regular plain M&M weighs 0.032 ounces and has 4.7 kilocalories of food energy.
  • Today, while the standard colors remain, special color editions are released for holidays and special occasions.
  • There are (or have been over time) at least two dozen different type of M&Ms.

Even today, M&Ms go wherever our military goes.

We salute the American serviceman’s long-time field ration best friend: the M&M.

Famous Bridge

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?


Pure symbolism.


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

Post Commander

Pete Margaritis


The next regularly scheduled post meeting this month will be on Thursday, October 10th, at 1900 hrs. The meeting location will be as usual at the F.O.E. Eagles Club (#3261) at 1623 Brice Rd.

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