Milk chocolate—sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk, and milkfat—makes up the Milky Way. Corn syrup, sugar, and palm oil sweeten the candy bar. Frank Mars founded MAR-O-BAR, now Mars. Inc.
In 1911, Tacoma, Washington, founded Mars Incorporated. The Milky Way Candy Bar, a chocolate-vanilla candy bar, was his first invention in 1923. He made a simple but delicious nougat-coated hard chocolate.
In the 1920s, candy was hand-wrapped. Hershey's chocolate supplied the coating initially. In 1924, the Bar sold over $800,000.
In 1925, the Milky Way candy bar advertised more malted milk than a soda fountain double malt. The Milky Way was invented to offer milk chocolate, often found in drink substitutes, in a tasty, affordable (10 cents) candy bar.
Milkshake malt-inspired malt-flavoured chocolate. Mars Inc. trademarked Milky Way in 1925. By 1929, the Milky Way bar was the top-selling candy bar in the US after the company moved to Chicago in 1926.
A young man with a big dream invented Milky Way candy. Frank Mars, the son of a gristmill worker, looked for ways to support his young son, Forrest Mars. A chip salesman started one of the most successful companies that lasted over 100 years.
Frank studied candy-making in Tacoma and Seattle between 1882 and 1910. He struggled with his divorce and low capital but was determined to run a successful candy business. In his kitchen, he made popular butter-cream candies.
Mars discovered the post-war chocolate craze and created his first chocolate bar, the Mar-O-Bar. This gave him a foothold in the candy-making industry and led to the Milky Way candy bar creation at N. Oak Park Ave. in Chicago, Illinois. In one of the first Milky Way bar print ads, "sunlight and fresh air" were listed as ingredients. Sunlight and fresh air were used in this Bar because Mr. Mars made candy in his kitchen with open windows to bake the best chocolate bar he could imagine.
Forever Yours is a 1926 vanilla bar spin-off. The 1936 Forever bar has chewy (not creamy) caramel, fluffy vanilla nougat, and bittersweet dark chocolate. From 1936, Milky Way had variations. This candy bar disappeared in 1979.
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Later, in 1989, Mars Inc. renamed this vanilla bar Milky Way Dark. The Milky Way Midnight bar, seen on Marschocolate.com, was renamed in 2000. This Bar has caramel, dark chocolate, and vanilla nougat.
The invention of the Milky Way Bar
By 1926, there were two Milky Way bars.
What Was the Milky Way Bar Named After?
The Milky Way candy bar is often misnamed after space. It was named after the malted milk drinks popular in candy and soda shops. Malted milk was first sold as baby formula and was still considered healthy when the Milky Way Bar was created.
Early ads for this Bar claimed it had more malted milk than a soda fountain double. This would have made the Bar seem very healthy to consume in those days, which seems counterintuitive now. People would have been drawn to these candy bars for health reasons.
The original bars were 3 ounces, twice the size of market-standard bars. The Bar was squarer than candy bars today, but that was typical. The company claimed the thick and large candy bar looked more impressive and exciting than the flat and sparse Hershey's Bar. The Bar's health benefits from malted milk probably helped sell it.
Milky Way Bar varieties
Like many candy bars, this Bar comes in several flavours. Due to licensing and marketing concerns, Milky Way candy bars are sold under different names in different countries. In some countries, candies cannot be sold under their original title or branding.
If you don't know, this is a Milky Way bar disguised as a different bar. Mars Bar sells the US Milky Way Bar worldwide, including in Canada. The US and Canada sell Milky Way as 3 Musketeers. Milky Way does not sell these in Canada.
US 3 Musketeers bar. The global Bar also tastes different. This Bar has a lighter nougat center and no caramel topping. Due to its manufacturing, this candy bar floats in milk, which has prompted US and international advertising.
In 1993, the Bar's vanilla center replaced its European chocolate center. Australia sells it this way. Australia has banana, mango, and strawberry varieties.
Mars bars were originally called Flyte bars in the UK. It was sold in UK twin packs like the old Milky Way candy. Milky Way Crispy Rolls, a wafer roll with a creamy milk filling, replaced this Bar in 2015. UK variants include Milky Way Magic Stars.
Non-bar chocolate star candy. These sweets have unique magic star characters. These little candies have a cast of characters that help market the Bar.
Milky Way Midnight Bar. The Milky Way Dark Bar is another less popular candy bar in this family. Dark chocolate with vanilla nougat and caramel was its original form. In the 1930s, the company sold the bars together. The white nougat-filled Forever Yours Bar was renamed. After a 10-year hiatus due to declining sales, this was reintroduced as the Milky Way Dark bar in 1989.
Milky Way Candy Bar Promotion
Due to its long history and many flavours and varieties outside the US, this candy bar has been marketed in many ways. Jess Star, Bright Star, Super Star, Twinkle Star, Falling Star, Happy Star, Sport Star, Clever Star, and Baby Star is UK Milky Way Magic Stars characters. These characters promote star-shaped treats and the brand.
"The sweet you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite" was a UK and Australian slogan. This is a mouthful, but many candy bars are advertised this way when candy is considered a healthy meal replacement.
In the 1980s and mid-1990s, US ads showed cars eating bars. The cartoon car that ate Milky Way candy could jump over an opening bridge, but the other car was too fat. Many candy commercials used this tactic to benefit the sugar lobby.
The sugar lobby began floating candy bars in milk ads to show they were no longer a heavy meal replacement. Changing the bar recipes to reduce sugars and make the candy healthier would take years. Candy bar marketing's slow changes caused many misconceptions about how to eat candy. Snickers' current ads still hint at meal replacement.
Buster Keaton advertised the candy briefly. The 60s silent film star pulled off some impressive hijinks in the ad. Because of its fame, this ad is still on YouTube. It's too bad this didn't last longer or inspire more ads like it. Ads are here.
Mars ads in the 1960s were criticized for making health claims about the Bar, which may have halted this ad campaign. Ads claiming the Bar contained a quarter cup of fresh milk caused years of controversy. The FTC ordered the Bar to remove farm-fresh and health food claims.
Current ads suggest that people will forget appointments, visits, and homework because they're too busy enjoying their Milky Way bar. These ads use "Sorry, I was eating a Milky Way." This suggests that this Bar should be savoured rather than gulped down quickly.
Designing Marketing Wrappers
Different wrappers are sold for these candy bars. Milky Way Bars worldwide have blue wrappers with white lettering. Stars and white swirls surround the candy bar logo on the wrapper. American versions are brown with green lettering. Silver wrappers with red lettering on blue backgrounds cover the 3 Musketeers bar.
When lined up, you can see that all packaging uses the same font. Despite different colours and names, the fonts are similar. This is an exciting marketing choice since most candy bars today have brighter wrappers, but this candy has always been wrapped in retro colours.
Many companies keep their wrappers and other marketing materials consistent with maintaining brand recognition for these more traditional bars. Hershey's Bar's dark brown wrapper and simple lettering are good examples.
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