An M&M’s insider employee reveals how they come up with new flavors

As you may have noticed towards the end of the year, there tends to be a spike in the creation of new candy flavors. Mars Chocolate, producers of M&Ms and the like, is one of the primary distributors of new, delicious candy all year round. They come up with their most creative stuff, though, with their fall and winter offerings.

Who can forget pecan pie, white pumpkin pie, holiday mint and s’mores, just to name a few? I can feel your hearts warming with all that festive nostalgia those flavors are giving you, and I am with you! They sure do bring back memories of good times and very full stomachs.

So how do the Willy Wonkas out there do it? TJ Kanaris, the Seasonal Marketing Director at Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., explains how he and his team at Mars Chocolate come up with new M&M’s flavors for the holiday season.

The first step is simple enough: you consider what people are looking forward to during the holiday season. Kanaris explains, “we spend quite a bit of time thinking about families’ needs. We think about how we can help families celebrate the holidays.”

mms mars chocolate candy

Once this is done, Kanaris begins working with so-called flavor houses and his sensory team. The sensory team is a group of people that are “experts at tasting chocolate”, to develop the candy’s final form (which sounds like one of the greatest jobs on the planet).

Kanaris continues:

Take one of the company’s newest flavors for the fall season, white pumpkin pie. While neither of the flavors—white chocolate or pumpkin pie—are necessarily new, me and my team saw an opportunity to represent a flavor combination that is underserved within confectionary.

White pumpkin pie is Kanaris’ favorite flavor and that has greatly helped its development. He says: “takes me back to when I was young, celebrating Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s house.”

This is just one example, as the team has many different types of chocolate to play with as they formulate the new candies and sometimes, like with the white pumpkin pie example, which extra flavor to pair with the chocolate.

Sometimes the tasting process can take up to a staggering nine months, with many different versions of the candy created along the way. One of the main drives behind the team that comes up with seasonal and holiday candy is a concept known as “new-stalgia”.

mms candy in factory

The team’s mission is to help customers “find new ways to celebrate their traditions”. For example, candy corn M&M’s, one of the company’s more divisive flavors, exemplifies that idea. “By combining an iconic Halloween candy with a traditional chocolate M&M’s, Mars puts a new twist on fall candy.”

On the subject of any notable unreleased M&M flavors that could be tantalizing our taste buds anytime soon, Kanaris says he doesn’t like to reveal some of the other iterations, so that people don’t get disappointed that they weren’t able to try these flavors. It’s so unfair that they get to try flavors we will never discover. I’m actually crying.

This holiday season will see holiday mint, caramel, and peanut M&Ms, all of which will be dressed up for Christmas, hitting grocery store shelves soon. No hints as of yet for the surprise new flavors we will get in the New Year.

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