29th
Aug
2013

Posted in Reference

Having just had a quick look around, to say that Mars Incorporated has its fingers in many pies would be a bit of an understatement. Chocolate, ice cream, candy, tea, coffee, vending machines, rice, chewing gum, dog food, cat food, aquariums... you see what I mean? I've no doubt however that were I to ask someone what first came to mind when I asked them about Mars, perhaps with a stipulation we were dealing in terrestrial terms, that they would respond with the famous chocolate Mars bar. It is this facet of their organisation that I intend to delve into.

The first version of Mars Incorporated was created in 1911 by Franklin Clarence Mars, an American born in 1883. During infancy, Franklin contracted polio. Unable to walk, his mother Alva entertained him by sharing her passion for making candy, teaching him how to hand dip it in chocolate, which he enjoyed. Growing up, he retained his own passion for making candy and in 1902, at the age of 19, he married Ethel Kissack and began a small business selling molasses chips ( think cinder toffee and Crunchie bars). Unfortunately, neither the business nor the marriage lasted. They had a son however, and Forrest Mars went on to become a driving force behind the Mars business established by his father.

In 1910, in what almost seems a repeat scenario, Franklin married again, this time to Ethel Healy and soon after began producing chocolate from a factory in Tacoma, Washington known as the Mars Candy factory. His marriage and business were successful this time and the business began to expand. They moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1920 and opened a larger factory, as well as changing the company's name to the Mar-O-Bar Co. Coinciding with the change was a new chocolate bar named after the company, though due to its fragility it did not do as well as was hoped. It was at the Minneapolis factory that both the Snickers and Milky Way bars were conceived. Named after a popular milkshake at the time, as opposed to the galaxy, the Milky Way bar was very successful in America, which was good news for Franklin after the failure of the Mar-O-Bar.

Whilst Franklin had been building up the company, his son Forrest had been studying industrial engineering at the University of California and Yale. After completing his degree, he returned to his father's company, now named Mars, Inc. but the pair had differences over whether the company should be taken abroad. Giving his son the recipe for the Milky Way and $50,000, Forrest came to the UK and established Mars Limited in Slough. It was here that Forrest created the Mars bar, a twist on the Milky Way recipe to better suit the prevailing tastes in Europe.

After Franklin's death in 1934, Forrest became the new owner of Mars Incorporated. Merging it with his own company in the UK set it on the path to becoming a global powerhouse. It is still owned by the Mars family to this day.

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