AW Throwback: The M&M’s Candy Man

As part of their landmark 75th birthday celebration in 2016, M&M’s collaborated with singer Aloe Blacc and DJ Zedd for a modern-day remix of Sammy Davis Jr.’s hit single “The Candy Man.”

BBDO New York created commercials that sampled the sweet tune’s cover, and a full-length music video was also made to accompany the spots. The music video’s first few seconds included a throwback to an M&M’s ad from the 1970s. Here the earliest versions of the beloved Red and Yellow are spotted as Orange and Green, respectively. Between the pair is a gangly, jolly fellow in a red shirt and yellow suspenders known as “The M&M’s Candy Man.” Not familiar with the short-lived mascot? Let’s find out more about him and his role in the M&M’s universe!

Before Sammy put his own spin on the song in 1972, “The Candy Man” was actually written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1971 Gene Wilder film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. In the 1970s, Mars, Incorporated (AKA the global manufacturer of M&M’s) used the song as the jingle for the M&M’s Candy Man character.

The M&M’s Candy Man would enjoy commercial appearances as both an animated mascot and a real-life spokesperson. Played by actor Hap Lawrence in the live action spots (as well as the vocal talent for the animated ones!), the character drove his own yellow M&M’s truck. He showed kids how M&M’s were made, always making sure to emphasize that the milk chocolate “melts in your mouth, not in your hand!”

Was there a connection between Willy Wonka and the M&M’s Candy Man? It’s possible that Mars might have used the kooky confectioner as inspiration for the mascot, but it has never been fully confirmed one way or the other. What we do know for sure is that “The Candy Man” — with small M&M’s adjustments — was the perfect catchy jingle for the chocolates. Let’s hear it again!

“Who dunks M&M’s?

(Who dunks M&M’s?)

In chocolate, take a guess?

(In chocolate, can you guess?)

Who covers them in candy so there is no chocolate mess?

The M&M’s man!

The M&M’s man!

The M&M’s man and he adds a lot of love to make it all taste good!”

Heather Taylor

Heather Taylor

Icon Researcher & Blogger at Advertising Week
Heather Taylor
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