NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The vote is in -- and M&M lovers worldwide chose purple as the newest color to find its way into bags of the color-coated chocolate candy.
More than 10 million M&Ms candy lovers in the United States and 200 other countries have voted to add purple to the popular, button-like candy's rainbow of colors, manufacturer Masterfoods USA, a subsidiary of Mars Inc., said Wednesday at a gala Web-cast party in New York.
"We're very excited about the turnout and consumer involvement with M&Ms," Masterfoods USA president Paul Michaels told Reuters. Purple won, Michaels said, because "It's a popular color, it's a royal color. People love it around the world."
Of the three choices, purple pulled in 41 percent of the vote, with aqua commanding a close second with 37 percent and pink winning a meager 19 percent. The newest color will be added to the current blend of red, yellow, orange, green, blue and brown for a limited time beginning in August.
Specially marked packages containing the three choices were available prior to May 31 when "the polls" closed for the company-sponsored Global Color Vote, the second such promotion and first to include votes from outside the United States, including Indonesia, Australia, France and China.
In 1995, Americans voted to change tan M&Ms to blue. The tan-colored candies had replaced violet in 1949.
When the candy was introduced in 1941, the mix included red, yellow, green, brown, orange, and violet.
Mars Inc. founder Forrest Mars Sr. created the candy in the late 1930s based on Spanish Civil War soldiers' hard sugar-encased chocolates. First marketed in 1941, M&Ms' similar ability to resist melting made it a staple food of World War II American GIs.
The candy, whose letters stand for Mars and co-founder Murrie, still boasts its 1954 slogan, "The milk chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hand."
In the heated, $13 billion a year U.S. chocolate market, M&Ms has to have a hard shell. It is the world's top single brand, according to Michaels, but faces fierce U.S. competition from Hershey's variety of chocolate products including Hershey bars and Reese's peanut butter cups, making Hershey's the top U.S. confectionery brand, according to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association.
--from staff and wire reports