When I downloaded NPR’s Planet Money podcast, the last thing I expected to hear was a detailed investigation into the weights and measurements of M&M candy. The M&M Anomoly episode has much to teach any food producer selling loose foods like snacks and panned candy (like chocolate covered espresso beans).
How do companies decide exactly how much goes into each package? Why do M&M flavors have slight weight variations?
David Kestenbaum explored theories including:
- striving for equal profit per flavor, by varying the quantity (which normally companies don’t do, in favor of averaging costs across flavors for simplicity).
- automated bag filling, causing weight variations by M&M flavor size
The answer came down to keeping the packs under 250 calories — an industry “sweet spot” for sweet snacks.
Needless to say, I had to drop in at the nearest quickie mart on the road to see the latest in M&M labeling for myself. The packaging has sure changed, with lots of indicators about the flavors and fillings (important since there are so many M&M flavors now, including dark chocolate mint). And the calorie count is loud and clear.
I hit the road, glad there are still no color-free M&M’s. That seemingly better-for-you offering could really “pull me back in.”