Perhaps Surge was just the beginning.
Mars tells BuzzFeed News that it's resurrecting Crispy M&M's this January in response to fan requests after discontinuing the line domestically in 2005. Similar to Surge, which Coca-Cola recently reintroduced to great enthusiasm, Crispy M&M's were popular with today's twentysomethings when the cohort was growing up, and have been recalled with deep fondness on the internet ever since. Mars is hoping to tap into nostalgia for the candy from all ages in what it says is M&M's biggest launch since the pretzel variant of the sweet.
People ask Mars to bring back Crispy M&M's "nearly daily," Seth Klugherz, senior director of M&M's Chocolate Candies, told BuzzFeed News. The candy is so popular that the most committed fans have it shipped from places like Germany and Australia, where it was never discontinued.
The requests for its return are "coming in the form of Facebook posts, they're coming in the form of calls to our customer service hotline, petitions — which, I didn't know you could petition to have products back — it's really a very broad-based group," Klugherz added. It typically takes a year to a year and a half to bring a product to market, which means the decision to bring it back came well before Surge, he said.
Crispy M&M's — technically known as M&M's Crispy — are the most clamored-after brand among all of Mars' discontinued products, and were only removed from U.S. shelves because they were a limited-edition item, the company said. Unlike Surge, which Coca-Cola is selling exclusively through Amazon, Mars will make a bigger bet by selling Crispy M&M's at retailers across the nation.
M&M's represent the biggest chocolate brand at Mars, which also owns Milky Way, Snickers, and Twix. Mars, with more than $33 billion in annual sales, is the second-biggest U.S. chocolate maker after Hershey and the world's biggest pet food maker. As a privately held and famously secretive firm, little financial information about Mars is publicly available.
Crispy M&M's don't have nearly the same fanatical following that Surge had prior to its re-release. Surge had multiple fan groups seeking its return, including one called the "SURGE Movement" on Facebook, with more than 128,000 likes.
In contrast, the Facebook page for "Bring Back Crispy M&M's" only has 1,283 likes. People do appear to be buying bags of the candy on Amazon for anywhere from $7.62 to $28.78, though some complain of receiving stale goods. The international version of the candy has a hazelnut flavor that won't be sold in the U.S.
"Great buy!" enthused one five-star reviewer in March 2011. "Wife has been craving these for years since they stopped making them in the U.S. Crispy M&M is better than jewelry to her on this Valentines!" Another, with the user name Fantasia, called them "the best M&M's ever."
"I wish they would bring them back to the U.S.," Fantasia wrote, also assigning five stars to the candy. "I've been craving these since they left."