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Forrest Mars

AKA Forrest Edward Mars

Born: 21-Mar-1904
Birthplace: Tacoma, WA
Died: 1-Jul-1999
Location of death: Miami, FL
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Invented M&Ms

Forrest Mars was the only son of Mars candy magnate Frank Mars, and was the company's eccentric President in the 1970s. His parents divorced when Mars was very young, and he was raised in Canada by his mother's family, rarely seeing his father. In adulthood, the elder Mars hired his son, but they clashed at the candy company. Forrest Mars was essentially banished to Europe, with foreign rights to Mars candies, and instructions to run the European business any way he saw fit.

For the European market, Mars altered the recipes for several of his father's most successful candies, and Americans traveling can still be surprised when unwrapping a candy bar on the other side of the Atlantic. He worked briefly for Nestle and Tobler, then started his own company, Forrest Mars Food Manufacturers. FMFM had its own great success, including the introduction of Uncle Ben's converted rice, Pedigree brand pet foods, and M&Ms, a candy-coated chocolate that resisted melting even on hot summer days -- no small accomplishment in a time before air conditioning. To fund the launch of M&Ms, Mars entered into a partnership with Bruce Murrie, the son of a Hershey executive (M&M stands for Mars & Murrie) but the two men soon had a falling out, and Mars purchased Murrie's shares in the venture. Some thirty years after his father's death, FMFM was merged into Mars, with Forrest Mars as President. M&Ms remain the company's best-selling product.

Under Mars' leadership, the Mars company -- completely controlled by the Mars family -- had no public relations department, and instructed its staff to hang up if reporters called. Mars himself had an explosive temper, and once flew into a public rage upon opening a package of M&Ms and finding that the Ms printed on the candy coating were illegible. He enjoyed humiliating managers, and was known to interrupt executive meetings to call for God's help for the company, shouting, "I pray for Milky Way. I pray for Snickers..." In one of the most famous anecdotes of his life, Mars personally turned down Universal Studios when they sought to use M&Ms in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and sales of rival Hershey's Reese's Pieces subsequently tripled when they were shown in the movie instead.

Mars left the family business in 1973, and his two sons became co-Presidents, later joined by his daughter, with all three holding the title of Co-President. For years he reportedly peppered his children with criticisms for their management decisions. Eventually, bored by retirement, Forrest Mars founded a deluxe chocolate company, Ethel's, named after his mother. Utterly secretive and rarely photographed, he was worth about $4B at his death in 1999. Cause of death and disposition of his remains have never been revealed by either his company or family. Ethel's is now owned by Mars.

Father: Frank Mars (Founder of Mars, b. 1883, d. 1934)
Mother: Ethel Kissack Mars (candymaker, m. 1902, div. 1910)
Mother: Ethel Veronica Healy Mars (stepmother, Mars executive, b. circa 1883, m. 1910, d. 1934)
Wife: Audrey Mars (b. 1910, d. 1989)
Son: Forrest Mars Jr. (Mars Co-President, b. circa 1931)
Son: John Mars (Mars Co-President, b. circa 1935)
Daughter: Jacqueline Mars Vogel (Mars Co-President)

    High School: Lethbridge High School, Lethbridge, Canada (1922)
    University: UC Berkeley (attended 1922-23)

    Ethel's Chocolates (1981-85)
    Mars President (1967-73)
    Forrest Mars Food Manufacturers Founder & President (1933-67)


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