You know M&Ms? Of course you do – They’re like mini smarties, but with American chocolate in them. They also differ from mini smarties in that each one has a letter M printed on it.
An individual sweet from a pack of Smarties is called a Smartie, so I wondered if an individual M&M was called an M.
I asked the Internet. I started with Twitter.
I decided this might be question better presented to the M&M people themselves, so I filled in the “Contact Us” page on their UK site.
Sorry to bother you with what must sound like a trivial question, but is an individual M&M called an M? It can’t be one M&M (singular) because it only has one M printed on it.
Thanks in advance,
I clicked Submit, and received this confirmation.
Thank you for sending us your feedback, it is very valuable to us. Please do not hesitate to contact us again, in the meantime, if you have more feedback or questions. We will deal with your query as quickly as we can and and reply to you shortly.
Their site confirmed that they had received my query, but didn’t give me an exact time by which I should have received a reply.
It also contained two “and”s towards the end. Nice move, UK webmaster!
After a few days, and with no reply, I decided that the UK site was probably not the best place to ask. M&Ms, after all, did originate from the US. I asked the same question on the US site. The UK site had contained a gramatical error in it’s confirmation message. Luckily, the US site contained no grammatical errors as far as I could see. It did, however, contain one beautiful error that prevented me reading the confirmation message.
I also asked the official M&Ms facebook page. Maybe one of their 2 million followers knew the answer?
To: Craig A
Subject: M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES.
Dear Mr. Anderson,
In response to your email regarding M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES.
The trademark/brand name of our sugar-coated lentil-shaped products is “M&M’s”® and thus whether there are many pieces or one piece, each and all of them is/are “M&M’s”®.
You could, and we do, differentiate between one piece and many pieces by saying “a “M&M’s”® candy” or “several “M&M’s”® candies”, the number being indicated by the generic term for the product.
Have a great day!
Your Friends at Mars Chocolate North America
*sighs, slowly looks down, closes eyes and shakes head in despair*
Subject: M&M’S CHOCOLATE CANDIES.
Thanks for replying so quickly. It is great when a huge company such as yours does actually read emails from everyone who emails in. For this, I thank you wholeheartedly. I originally emailed yourselves and the UK devision of Masterfoods with my M&M query. Sadly you, at the bigger division, were the only one who replied. I would have thought that the UK division, in that it covers a far smaller country than you do and therefore probably has far less to do, would have the ability to reply far quicker. Apparently not. Yet another example of where we fall behind the rest of the world when it comes to customer care.
As a thanks to you for replying, I’m going to try my hardest to fit in as many Americanisms as possible. (Sorry, Americanizms!)
Although I AM grateful, if I am being honest your answer frustrates me on so many different levels. Seriously? It is “a “M&M’s”® candy” ? Seriously? I’ve attached a diagram to show potential errors, both grammatical and logical, and used the numbers as reference to the points below:
1) The first thing that frustrates me is the “a”. Regardless of whether your sweet, (sorry, candy,) is called M or M&M, shouldn’t it at least be an “an” at the beginning? When you’re deciding whether to use an “a” or an “an” before a word, the rules are to look at the following word. If, phonetically, the word starts with a vowel sound, then the word before it should be “an”. If it starts with a consonant sound, it should be an “a”. M, as in M&M, is obviously a consonant, so you would think it would have “a” at the beginning, but the letter “M” is pronounced “EMM”, making it a vowel sound, and so it should be preceded with “an.” That is the first thing.
2) Next, the “s” worries me. There are two main possibilities when adding an “s” to the end of a word; either the word is becoming plural, or it indicates that the word belongs to someone. As there is often confusion as to when to use an apostrophe, I’ll address both possibilities. (These are based on my understanding of apostrophes and, as such, may be open to debate.)
WITH the apostrophe , “M&M’s candy” means “a candy belonging to M&M.” It doesn’t actually tell you what the candy is called, just that it belongs to M&M.
WITHOUT the apostrophe it means that there is more than one. If this is how it is meant to read and we ARE talking about a single sweet (sorry, candy), why is it pluralised? (Sorry, pluralized.) IF we’re going with THIS rule, it should be “an M&M”, not “an M&Ms”
3) Why do you put the ® in the title of the individual sweet (candy) ? I can only imagine it is because we are meant to pronounce that too? Are you seriously telling me that one single sweet (sorry, candy) should be called “An M&M’s Registered Trademark Candy”? I understand putting it on your outer packaging to show that the name in its entirety is a registered trademark in case another company wants to steal it, (sorry, have it burglarized,) but if you put it in the name of each swee… candy, I can only assume it is because you want people to pronounce it? Or else why is it there?
At present, each candy is printed with 1 letter M on it. Doesn’t it make more sense, in that you’re already branding them as such, to agree to call it an M? That way your branding AND your name for them would match!
You know your bonkers (zany) TV adverts with the huge anthropomorphic M&Ms talking? Even THEY only have 1 M on their stomachs, AND they even call each other M! Everyone already thinks they’re already called an “M”, and by announcing that you’re calling individual ones “M&Ms” is just going to make people think that you have been incorrectly branding your candies for decades.
In fact, I’ve put together a picture using your own products in an attempt to argue my case:
If I were to invent a candy and print the word “Craig” on each individual one, people would probably called them “a Craig” if there was one or “a few Craigs” if there were a few. At no point would anyone accidentally call an individual one a “Craig & Craig.” It just wouldn’t make sense.
In that it is grammatically incorrect, why not wipe the slate clean and start afresh, rebranding them as Ms.
Go on…. I double dare you!